The number of women here who have been diagnosed with breast cancer has tripled in the past 40 years, said Dr Chan Ching Wan, chairman of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month's organising committee. Here are five things you should note about breast cancer.
1. Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer among women in Singapore. Women of all the three major ethnic groups here (Chinese, Malay and Indian) are equally affected.
Between 2010 and last year, more than 9,200 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Colorectal cancer comes a distant second with about 4,200 new cases during the same period.
2. Women of all age groups are affected, but it is more common in women above 40 years old. Men can also develop breast cancer.
3. Mammograms can save your life. The only effective and proven method to detect breast cancer early is an X-ray of the breasts called mammogram.
Studies in US and Europe have shown that regular breast screening in women aged 40 years and above can reduce the risk of death from breast cancer by up to 50 per cent. This translates into lives saved.
However, about one in 10 cancer cases do not show up on a mammogram. The tumour could be located in a part of the breast that is difficult to screen, or hidden by normal tissue.
4. Mammography is fast and safe. It usually lasts for about 20 minutes, and discomfort is minimal for most women. There is only a very tiny amount of radiation exposure from a mammogram.
5. The exact cause of breast cancer remains unknown. About half of the breast cancer patients here have no identifiable risk factors.
Source: Singapore Cancer Society, Breastcancer.org

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