KUALA LUMPUR, Breast cancer can develop in anyone and among the factors that raise the risk of this disease include genetics, family history, hormonal changes, lifestyle, age, menstrual cycle and menopause.

Based on World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, a total of 685,000 deaths were recorded in 2020 due to breast cancer and it is estimated that 0.5 to one per cent of breast cancer cases involve men.

Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City, consultant clinical oncologist Dr Christina Lai Nye Bing said although breast cancer awareness is increasing, the fact remains that most newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are already in the advanced stage.

"The recovery rate of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage is much higher compared to patients in the advanced stage but have not yet spread to other parts of the body (stage 3) or metastatic (stage 4).

"It is recommended that mammograms be done once a year by women over 40 years old. It (mammograms) can detect precancerous breast calcifications, which are white spots on X-ray images that indicate ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also known as stage 0 breast cancer," she said in a statement today.

Dr Lai said while DCIS is often benign, it accounts for 20% of all newly diagnosed breast cancers.

Therefore, she encouraged women and men to conduct self-examinations once a month from as early as the age of 20 to ensure there are no abnormalities.

“If you feel a lump in your breast, it is vital not to panic since only 10 to 20 per cent of lumps turn out to be cancerous, but for women, do not do it just before menses as breasts tend to swell," she said.

She said latest advancements in screening and oncology offer new hope for women facing breast cancer as hormone status and genomic studies provide valuable insights, allowing oncologists to tailor treatments to each patient's unique situation.

Dr Lai said the progress opens the way for targeted treatment that can significantly shrink or remove tumours and patients suffer less side effects due to innovations such as the use of chemotherapy machines that can preserve hair, oncoplastic surgery for breast reconstruction and improved anti-vomiting drugs.

“In the past, a breast cancer diagnosis was often accompanied by fear and uncertainty, which meant facing disfiguring surgeries and debilitating treatments.

"However, the outlook today for women is much more positive. Treatment approaches are also less instrusive to patients' lifestyles and daily life. Although breast cancer remains a serious disease, there is every reason to be hopeful, especially when detected early," she said.

Elaborating further, Dr Lai said 50 per cent of women diagnosed with cancer in Malaysia are under 50 years old. Therefore, young people also need to start paying attention to this matter.

In conjunction with national breast cancer awareness month, Pinktober, Dr Lai invited the public to instill a proactive attitude in understanding their respective risk factors and to commit to regular check-ups and early detection to be able to treat breast cancer.

"If you have any questions about breast cancer, immediately seek advice from a doctor. The health check-up centre can also suggest a package that suits your risk factors," she added

Source: BERNAMA News Agency