It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. What better time to learn about breast cancer risk & what to look out for.
Like other cancers, the risk of developing breast cancer depends on a combination of risk factors and varies among individuals. Many of the risk factors for breast cancer are linked to lifestyle habits while some are factors that can’t be changed. It’s important to note that having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect.
- Age (above 50 years)
- Early menstruation onset (<12 years) and/or late menopause (> 55 years)
- Dense breast tissue
- Being inactive
- Being overweight
- Consuming alcohol
- Taking hormones (certain birth control pills & some HRT drugs)
If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower the risks you can control and about screening for breast cancer.
You can prevent or lower your risks of having breast cancer by changing the things you can.
- Get active – do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities, like brisk walking, each week
- Avoid drinking alcohol (less than 1 drink per day)
- Maintain a healthy body weight
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
The symptoms of breast cancer may not be easily recognized, especially early on. The following changes in the breasts may be a symptom of breast cancer:
- Breast lump
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- A change in skin texture of the breast or nipple (e.g. red, scaly, thickened or “orange-skin” appearance)
- Rash around the nipple
- In-drawing of the nipple
- Discharge from one or both nipples
- New and persistent discomfort or pain in the breast or armpit
- A new lump or thickening in the armpit
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better your chance of treating it. Every woman needs to be “breast aware” and make sure they are checking in frequently by doing self-exams and having regular check-ups. Note any abnormal changes to the look and feel of your breasts. If you’re familiar with the normal look, feel and cyclical changes of your breasts it’s easier to recognize any changes.
If you notice any irregular change in your breasts, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and may carry out some other investigations such as mammography, ultrasound or MRI.
To learn more about Breast Cancer Screening in Hong Kong, check out our latest info.