What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in Singapore today. One out of every 17 women in Singapore is likely to be affected by breast cancer, with more than 1,850 new cases diagnosed annually. Every woman should get educated on breast cancer symptoms and risk factors.

Breast cancer occurs when breast cells become abnormal and divide without control or order. The majority of breast cancers start in the milk ducts. Breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes in the underarms and other parts of the body such as the bones, lungs and liver.

Risk factors for breast cancer

  • Having one or more close relative(s) with breast cancer, e.g. mother, sister, aunt or grandmother
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Previous breast biopsy showing atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in-situ
  • Early menstruation, i.e. before the age of 12
  • Late menopause, i.e. after the age of 55
  • Having the first child after the age of 30
  • Regular consumption of alcohol
  • Women on long-term use of combined hormone replacement therapy

Symptoms of breast cancer

These symptoms may be caused by a number of problems and may not indicate the presence of breast cancer. But if any of these breast cancer symptoms persists or is bothering you, do consult your doctor.

  • A lump or thickening in the breast
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A change in the colour or feel of the skin of the breast, areola or nipple
  • Bloodstained discharge from the nipple
  • Persistent rash on the nipple and/or areola
  • A recently retracted or inverted nipple

Screening and specialist services for breast cancer

Breast cancer screening and specialist services are available at the following Institutions in Singapore:

Screening Specialist Services
National Cancer Centre SingaporeNational Cancer Centre Singapore
KK Women’s and Children’s HospitalKK Women's and Children's Hospital
Singapore General HospitalSingapore General Hospital
SingHealth Polyclinics

Breast cancer treatment

Breast cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery – ranging from a lumpectomy to mastectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Hormone therapy

Ref: S13