October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month. The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), a member of the SingHealth group, shares the risk factors and symptoms of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in Singapore - with up to 1 in 13 developing breast cancer by the age of 75.

How breast cancer occurs

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.

Read more: What is preventive mastectomy and when is it advisable?

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

Read more: 7 Tips for good breast health

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

Read more: Prevention tips against the number one cancer in Singapore

ASK OUR SPECIALIST: Got a question about breast cancer? Hit this link to ask our Consultant from the National Cancer Centre Singapore. This forum is open till 28 Oct 2020.


Articles on HealthXchange.sg are meant for informational purposes only and cannot replace professional surgical, medical or health advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. Photo courtesy of iStock.