All You Need To Know About Breast Cancer – Symptoms, Screening And Treatment


Breast cancer is most prevalent among women, although some men are affected by this condition too. Yes, men are not spared as well. 

You probably know that female breasts contain milk glands that produce milk after giving birth. This milk flows through ducts.

Breast cancer usually affects these parts of the female’s breast.

When a woman is at the peak reproductive period, specific hormones influence the breast throughout a woman’s cycle. For example, you feel breast tenderness or some lumps in your premenstrual stage.

However, not all lumps are malignant. In layman terms, not all lumps are bad.

Read this article to find out the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

We’ll also discuss the difference between benign and malign breast tumours so that you can know the difference.

Later, we’ll explain several tests and treatment options for breast cancer. Remember to check in with your doctor if a lump or specific changes in your breast worry you.


Breast Cancer In Singapore

Remember that the yellow ribbon signifies giving ex-convicts a second chance?

Well, a pink ribbon represents breast cancer awareness in Singapore.


The Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF)

BCF stands for the Breast Cancer Foundation, where they aim to raise awareness about breast cancer in Singapore. It’s a social service that was established in 1997 and has been conducting talks, events and publications to raise awareness about breast cancer in Singapore.

The majority of women who are diagnosed with cancer in Singapore have cancer localised at their breasts. According to the Singapore Cancer Society, one thousand women receive this horrible diagnosis per year.

Just 600 will survive.

That’s why it’s better to diagnose cancer when it’s in the noninvasive phase. If you catch it early, you have more treatment options that your body will handle effortlessly. Therefore, your chances of getting better increases.

MK Personal Loan Banner

When your breast cancer progresses, things get more challenging. Your breast cancer can protrude nearby tissue and from there on extend into your lymphatic system, blood, and other organs. Usually, your lungs, liver, and bones become affected by this tumour.

Another factor to consider is your medical bills. Unless you have your insurance ready, these breast cancer treatments are going to cost quite a bit.

To prevent breast cancer, consider the risk factors below:


What Are The Risk Factors Of Breast Cancer?

The common risk factors of breast cancer include:

  • Age: women over 40 years old are more likely to get cancer, although younger females aren’t beneath this risk
  • Gender: women are more likely to get breast cancer compared to men. Unfortunately, men are diagnosed with this condition when the tumour has already progressed.
  • Family history: recurring breast cancer in your family may be caused by inheriting two genes. These are called BRCA1 and BRCA2. So, if a first relative (e.g., mother or sister) has developed breast cancer, you’re twice as likely to be diagnosed too. That’s why you should start screening earlier.
  • Reproductive history: abundant oestrogen secretion is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. You can lower these hormone levels through exercise and breastfeeding over one year after you give birth. Signs of high oestrogen levels in your body include:
    • Menstruation onset before 11 years old
    • Entering menopause after the age of 55
    • Not having any children
    • Becoming pregnant only after the age of 35 years old
    • Taking oral contraceptives between the ages of 10 and 15 years old
    • Using Hormone Replacement Therapy after reaching menopause
    • Being overweight
  • Diet: certain foods can increase your risk of breast cancer:
    • Red meat
    • Animal fat
    • Alcohol

Instead, try consuming:

  • More fruit and veggies
  • Beans
  • Omega 3 fish oil
  • Foods rich in vitamins A, C, E and selenium

A crucial sign of possible breast cancer is if you have a previous abnormal breast biopsy. In this case, you need regular screening. If you are wondering where to go for breast screening, you can call local polyclinics in Singapore. Also, subsidies are provided for mammograms.

The good news is that medical professionals can give reasonably accurate estimations of your breast cancer risk after studying the factors above.

As such, you can:

  • Start screening regularly and early on
  • Consider alternative contraceptive measures apart from the pill
  • Eat healthily and exercise every day
  • Consider prolonged breastfeeding after giving birth
  • Consider a prophylactic mastectomy if you’re in the high-risk category or take Tamoxifen, which is an effective anticancer drug
  • Get enough rest (or consider exploring a new hobby)

Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer

The most common signs of breast cancer, including male breast cancer, are:

  • Lumps on your breast or armpit
  • Eliminating blood through your breasts
  • Any sudden changes in your skin
  • Localised pain
  • Itching or rash at the nipple area
  • Swollen or thicker skin
  • Flaky skin on your breast or the nipple
  • A breast that changes shape or size
  • Orange peel texture
  • Accelerated weight loss

Luckily, 80% of breast lumps are benign tumours or non-cancerous at all. Below are the most common such nodules according to your age:

  • 20-years-old: fibroadenoma, a moving, non-cancerous lump
  • 30-years-old: a fibrocystic disease caused by an excess of oestrogen. This lump feels painful, but it’s non-cancerous
  • 40-years-old and above: fluid-filled breast cysts that are easily treated through needle punctures

As opposed to these lumps, cancer lumps are:

  • Hard
  • Irregularly shaped
  • Fixed
  • Accompanied by skin thickening and localised discomfort

So, what should you do if you noticed these signs and symptoms?


Screening And Exams For Breast Cancer

The most common preventative measure is regular screening.

However, if you’re worried about a new lump, contact your doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The first step is your physical exam and anamnesis. Your doctor will palpate and analyse your breasts, searching for any signs of discharge, lumps, and abnormal skin changes.

Following this exam, you will have to answer their questions about your health history. Remember to mention all the drugs you’re currently on and breast cancer in your family history.

Make a list of all your symptoms to discuss with your doctor. That way, you won’t forget anything essential.

Afterwards, your doctor may recommend:

  • Mammogram: X-rays show the difference between benign and malignant lumps
  • Ultrasound: to get a better picture of your breast tissue
  • MRI: together with other tests, this imaging method analyses your breast tissue
  • Biopsy: if your doctor suspects cancer, they will remove a tiny part of your breast tissue to analyse it in the lab

Types Of Breast Cancer 

Breast cancer is classified into two categories:


  • Noninvasive (stage 0): cancer hasn’t spread
  • Invasive (stages 1, 2, 3, and 4): cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs


  • Ductal carcinoma: the most common type, affecting your milk ducts
  • Lobular carcinoma: forms in your breast’s lobules that can produce breast milk
  • Sarcoma: affects the connective tissue in the breast, and it’s very uncommon

Treatment For Breast Cancer

Your doctor will select the best breast cancer treatment according to the type and stage of your breast cancer:

  • Lumpectomy: removing the tumour without damaging the breast
  • Mastectomy: removing all the breast tissue
  • Chemotherapy: anticancer drugs that prevent the proliferation of cancerous cells
  • Radiation: X-raying the cancer cells
  • Hormone therapy: when your test results suggest that abnormal hormone levels are responsible for cancer cell proliferation

These treatments are long-term and costly. For some, they may need extra financial help for their medical bills.

After the treatment has ended, you should always be on your toes and wary of signs of recurrence. Breast cancer can come back if the treatment hasn’t eradicated all cancer cells.

For example, you may notice:

  • Another lump
  • Nipple discharge or changes
  • Redness and irritations
  • Swelling and thickening of your skin
  • Swelling of your lymph nodes or your collarbones
  • Chest pain
  • Arm or shoulder pain
  • Arm or shoulder numbness
  • Arm swelling near the original cancer area


In Conclusion

Breast cancer is a prevalent occurrence in Singapore and worldwide. However, your best bet is to catch it early. This year’s breast cancer awareness month will be from 1 October to 31 October, so there will be lots of publicity and information about it.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rates are 90% for stages 0-2 and 70% for stage 3.

That’s why you should do your research and look out for any warning signs. Ask your doctor about regular screenings and mammograms, according to your risk levels.

If you discover breast changes, lumps, or are experiencing pain, visit your doctor as soon as possible.