Breast cancer is a malignant condition originating from the breast cells. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, it is the most common cancer among women worldwide, representing 25.8% of the total number of cancers diagnosed in 2020. Early prevention and detection significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and survival.
Breast cancer is a disease where malignant cells form in the tissues of the breast. Primarily affecting women, breast cancer can originate from different parts of the breast, leading to various types of the disease.
Recognising symptoms is key in early detection. Changes in breast size or shape, skin dimpling, nipple discharge, and new lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm are symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of breast cancer. A balanced diet, with ample fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can be a preventive practice. Limit the intake of processed foods and red meat.
Regular physical activity also contributes significantly to overall health and cancer prevention. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week.
In addition to diet and exercise, another key lifestyle modification involves the reduction of alcohol consumption and completely avoiding smoking. Both these habits have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Abstaining from them can considerably reduce this risk.
Doing self-breast examinations is the best way to detect breast cancer early. Do the following:
Conduct these examinations once a month. The best time is a few days after your menstrual period ends when the breasts are least likely to be swollen or tender.
What to look for during self-examinations:
Clinical breast examinations involve a healthcare professional manually examining the breasts and underarm areas for abnormalities. Women should start having these examinations in their 20s and continue at least every three years. For women aged 40 and above, annual examinations are recommended.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Women should start having mammograms at 40 or earlier if they are at high risk and continue annually. Mammograms can detect breast cancer before physical symptoms are obvious.
Individuals with certain inherited mutations are at increased risk for developing breast cancer. Genetic testing may be appropriate for those with a strong family history of breast cancer or known genetic mutations. Discuss your family medical history with your surgeon for comprehensive risk assessment and personalised advice.
Early prevention and detection of breast cancer significantly improve survival rates. This can be achieved through lifestyle modifications, regular self and clinical examinations, mammograms, and understanding your genetic risk. Consult our breast cancer specialist for personalised advice and further information to manage your breast health effectively.
Consultant General Surgeon (Breast & Thyroid Surgery)