Breast Cancer: Understanding Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer among women in Singapore today. It is estimated that more than 1,400 new cases are diagnosed annually, thankfully in the early, treatable stages of the disease. Learn more about breast cancer and its treatment below.

Why Women Develop Breast Cancer

The identification of the cause/s of breast cancer continues to elude physicians and medical researchers. So far, they have made two hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that breast cancer develops in a prolonged milieu of oestrogen production. The second hypothesis is that this dreaded disease is caused by a mutation or damage to the DNA of a breast cell. However, researchers have yet to figure out what exactly “triggers” the development of breast cancer.

Identification of the cause is vital because it will enable doctors to come up with the right breast cancer treatments and/or prevent its occurrence in women of high risk.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The Singapore Cancer Society has identified the factors that increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer…

  • Age 40 years old and above
  • Having a mother, sister or daughter who was diagnosed with breast cancer
  • A woman who underwent hormone replacement therapy for 5 years or more after menopause
  • Abnormal results in previous breast biopsies
  • A woman who underwent radiotherapy for lymphoma
  • Woman who never became pregnant or achieved her pregnancy after age 30
  • A woman who began menstruating before age 12 or reached menopause after age 55
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Presence of a mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes

Prolonged exposure to oestrogen is being cited as the cause of breast cancer developing in women who menstruate before the age of 12 or became menopausal after age 55, and in those who are overweight and obese.

It should be mentioned that women with mutations in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a 40 to 90 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

After The Diagnosis: What Breast Cancer Patients and their Loved Ones Can Do

Knowledge is empowering for both breast cancer patients and their loved ones. Doing in-depth research will not only help to correct longheld misconceptions and beliefs about the disease, it will enable patients and their families to make informed decisions. One of the best sources of information is their breast surgeon in Singapore, so it is good to have a list of questions on hand during a doctor’s appointment.

Helping a loved one with breast cancer is not limited to providing the financial support needed for breast cancer treatment in Singapore. It may require personally caring for them during their treatments and beyond. Support groups for patients and their loved ones provide valuable experiential advice on coping with the disease. In times of emotional stress, counselling can be very helpful to ease the burden in one’s heart. For those who belong to certain faiths, spiritual or religious counselling can help to uplift the spirit during periods of depression.

It must be emphasised that the treatment of breast cancer is not just about treating the disease itself. It is also about looking after the overall well being of the breast cancer patient this includes emotional and psychological health.

Currently, Dr Evan is one of a handful of surgeons in Singapore able to offer both the full range of options in breast cancer removal (lumpectomy / breast conservation surgery / oncoplastic breast surgery), and the full gamut of reconstructive options after both breast removal or breast conservation surgery (including use of perforator flap-free tissue transfer). This ensures a truly integrated and comprehensive breast surgery practice.