Be wary of any painless lump in the breast if there's a family history of breast cancer, advises Dr Preetha Madhukumar, Senior Consultant, Division of Surgical Oncology from the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS).
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Dr Preetha Madhukumar, Senior Consultant,
Division of Surgical Oncology,
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), a member of the
SingHealth group shares on risk factors and treatment for breast cancer.
There are some known risk factors to look out for. For instance, a mutation of the breast cancer gene (BRCA), especially BRCA 2, as well as ageing, alcohol consumption and obesity increase the risk of getting it.
Those with family members who have breast cancer, or who are suffering from liver disease or exposure to radiation, should also be suspicious of breast lumps. Undergoing treatment with certain hormones or working in environments such as a steel mill adds to the risk.
Similar treatment to female breast cancer
As with female breast cancer, the best treatment option is surgery, but only if the cancer is caught early enough and has not spread. And, depending on the stage and biology of the cancer, surgery is usually followed by other treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy or a targeted therapy.
“If the disease is already very advanced and has spread, then we can’t treat the cancer with surgery. Chemotherapy will be the way to go as a palliative treatment in that case,” said Dr Preetha. “However, diagnosing it early is still what matters most. And that can only come with increased awareness. Since male breast cancer is very rare, there is no routine screening available. The only method for early detection is through breast self examination.
This allows men to seek medical attention promptly when an abnormality is detected. I try to highlight this point whenever I give talks on breast cancer to the public. The public too can do their part by passing on the message to their friends and family.”