​Contin​ued from previous page.

"Generally speaking, one out of every 13 women in Singapore is likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 75 years old. That’s about 8 per cent of all women in the city-state," shares Dr Lim Geok Hoon, Senior Consultant for KK Breast Centre at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Am I at risk for breast cancer?

As a woman, your risk of developing breast cancer is higher if you:

  • Are > 50 years old
  • Have a close relative (mother, sister or daughter) who has breast cancer or if you have a genetic mutation
  • Have taken hormone replacement therapy for more than 5 years after menopause
  • Have previous breast biopsies that have shown abnormal results
  • Had specific types of radiotherapy for lymphoma.

A woman’s breast cancer risk is also increased, though less markedly, if she:

  • Has never been pregnant or had her first pregnancy after the age of 30
  • Began to menstruate before the age of 12, or reached menopause after the age of 55

Do bear in mind that breast cancer can affect anyone at any time, even in the absence of high risk factors.

Can breast cancer be prevented?

Although breast cancer cannot be effectively prevented, doing the following will reduce the risk of breast cancer:

  • Do not smoke
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle and diet
  • Keep an optimum body weight
  • If taking hormonal medications, restrict its use to a short duration
  • Breastfeed your child

When should I go for a mammogram?

To catch breast cancer in its early stages, you shouldn’t wait for symptoms, such as a lump in the breast, to become apparent. Current recommendations include a breast self-examination every month and a mammogram once every two years for women above the age of 50.

Women between the ages of 40 to 50 are advised to have an annual mammogram after consultation with their doctor.

Fast facts about breast cancer

  • There are more than 1,800 new cases of breast cancer in Singapore every year, most of them at an early stage
  • About a tenth or less of Singaporean women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history
  • The survival rate for women with early breast cancer after 5 years ranges from 93 to 100 per cent

See the previous page to learn when is a preventive mastectomy advised for breast cancer prevention.

Ref: L20

Check out other articles on breast cancer:

Breast Cancer Screening: Your Best Protection Against Breast Cancer

Tips to Keep Your Breasts Healthy

What To Do If an Abnormality in the Breast is Detected

Breast Cancer Treatment: What Are Your Options

Breast Cancer Treatment: Patient-Centred Cancer Treatment

Breast Reconstruction: When Should It Be Done

What the Husband Can Do If His Wife Has Breast Cancer