What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the breast tissues. Damage to the DNA of these cells results in uncontrolled cell division and growth, and eventually, these cells can accumulate to form lumps.
According to the latest statistics from the HK Cancer Registry, 3,508 women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. It is the most-common cancer type and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women in Hong Kong. The survival rate for breast cancer can be improved for women through breast health awareness and early detection.
Knowing your breasts
It is common for women’s breasts to regularly change. Every month a woman’s breasts may become swollen and tender during her period, and can also change during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is important to become familiar with your breasts so you can easily identify unusual changes.
Changes to look for:
- Any unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast
- Unexplained swelling of the breast
- A change in the skin texture of the breast, some describe this as similar to an orange peel’s texture
- A lump in the breast
- Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted
- A change in nipple shape
- A lump or thickening in the nipple area
- Any nipple discharge – particularly clear discharge or bloody discharge
- A swelling or lump in your armpit
Not every breast tumour can be detected by touch, sometimes your breasts will feel completely normal. When you can feel the mass, it may have already developed into a lump. It is important to seek medical advice if you find any of the changes mentioned above. Early diagnosis can increase your chance of recovery.
Although the average age of women diagnosed with breast cancer is 54, it is becoming increasingly common in younger women. If you have a family history of breast cancer or notice a lump or any other changes in your breast, consult your doctor immediately.