One in 14 ladies in Hong Kong is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, making it the most common cancer among females in Hong Kong. Fortunately, with modern screening tools and treatment options, the survival rate of breast cancer is high.
General surgeon, Dr. Mandy Wong, shares the five most important things we need to know about breast cancer.
Symptoms may not show up during the early stages, it is usually when cancer grows larger that symptoms start to appear. Being familiar with the breast helps to recognize changes early and can make a big difference in treatment options. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned here, seek medical attention as soon as possible:
The recommendation by the Cancer Expert and Screening (CEWG) in 2021, is that women aged over 44 should consider having a mammogram every two years if they have the below risk factors:
Women with the BRACA 1 or BRACA 2 gene mutation or a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer should have a mammogram.
Mammogram vs ultrasound is a question that often comes up. An Ultrasound is used to screen for breast cancer but the CEWG suggested that it is not as effective as a screening tool. It may, however, help to assess an abnormality seen on mammography and to clarify features of a potential lesion. It may also be considered in women with very dense breasts that affect the sensitivity of mammogram assessment.
To learn more about screening for breast cancer, check out here.
If the result of the mammogram is abnormal, don’t panic. Depending on the doctor’s assessment, more diagnostic tests might be needed in order to investigate the abnormality.
An example would be a breast biopsy where a small amount of tissue from the breast is taken out through a fine needle and sent to a laboratory to test for the presence of cancer cells.
If the doctor thinks that the abnormal result is unlikely to be cancer, they may suggest monitoring and repeating the mammogram in 6 months.
Surgery to remove the tumour is often the first line of treatment. The extent of the surgical treatment will depend on the situation and stage of breast cancer. The breast surgeon will discuss the most suitable surgical plan.
Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone or targeted therapies and will involve a team of health professionals to ensure the best treatment outcome.
Early diagnosis is the key to the success of treatment, so a regular health check with breast screening is essential.
For women with breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation, genetics have the strongest influence in their risk of breast cancer. For others, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being aware of the following points can help you:
It is important to keep in mind that by the time symptoms are noticeable it may be harder to treat. Regular health checks and breast screening play a crucial role in protection and prevention. So, don’t hesitate to contact us at 2537 7407 or book online if you have any concerns, we will be able to offer care and guidance.