Breast cancer is cancer that starts in the cells of the breast. It is the most common type of cancer in women, after skin cancer. This cancer can affect men too, but it is not very common. Thousands of people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in Hong Kong.
Breast cancers can be non-invasive or invasive. If it’s non-invasive, the cells do not spread to other parts of the body outside the breast, and you cannot get metastasis. The cells can spread to other parts of the body for invasive cancers, and you may get metastasis. The stage of cancer decides how fast it can spread.
Symptoms of breast cancer
If you lump the breast, thickening of breast tissue, dimpling or skin retraction of breasts, nipple problems such as crusting, scaling, and redness or pain, you should consult your doctor right away to check for abnormalities.
Breast self-examination (BSE) is also an excellent way to detect any lumps or abnormalities in the breasts. In case you notice anything or are not sure, ensure you get a Hong Kong breast cancer screening to detect the presence of cancer at an early stage
There are many different types of breast cancer, but the most common ones are:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): This cancer starts in the milk ducts.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): This is a pre-cancerous condition where abnormal cells are found in the breast’s lobules.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common type of breast cancer and starts in the milk ducts.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is the second most common type of breast cancer and begins in the breast’s lobules.
- Paget disease of the nipple: This is a rare type of breast cancer that starts in the nipple.
There are also several risk factors for breast cancer:
The older you are, the higher your risk for breast cancer.
- Family history
If someone in your family has had breast cancer at a young age, you are more likely to develop the disease too. It is why it’s essential to take care of yourself well and be aware of risk factors.
- Personal history
Breast cancer survivors have twice the risk of developing cancer again, so getting regular check-ups is essential.
- Being overweight or obese
Studies show that women with high body mass indexes (BMI) have 1.5 times the risk of getting breast cancer than those who maintain a healthy weight and diet.
- Not being physically active
Studies show that lack of physical activity is a risk factor for breast cancer. If you’re inactive, your body will be more likely to store fat and increase hormones such as estrogen, leading to the growth of tumors in the breast area. It is why it’s essential to take regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
Smoking is a known risk factor for many types of cancer, including breast cancer. If you smoke, you are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
- Alcohol consumption
Drinking alcohol can also increase your risk for breast cancer. It’s best to abstain from drinking or drink in moderation if you can.
- Exposure to radiation
If you have been exposed to radiation, whether from medical treatments or other sources, your risk for breast cancer goes up.
- Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy, which is used to treat menopausal symptoms, can increase your risk for breast cancer.
How is breast self-examination (BSE) done?
BSE is straightforward and only takes a few minutes. Here’s how you do it:
- Stand in front of a mirror and look at your breasts. Are they symmetrical? Look for any changes in shape, size, or contour.
- Look for discharge from the nipples, especially if it’s bloody or pus-like.
- Next, place your palms facing down on your hips and press firmly with all four fingers of each hand in a circular motion around the breast area. Please do this for at least 10 seconds in a clockwise direction and then repeat it in the other direction for another 10 seconds
- Look at your breasts while you do this to see any changes in the way they look.
- Finally, feel your breasts by moving your hands all around your breast area. Use different amounts of pressure and be sure to feel all over, including the armpits, as cancer can also form in these areas.
Report any findings and book for a Hong Kong breast cancer screening so that you can do something about it early on.
What is life after a breast cancer diagnosis?
Breast cancer is a scary diagnosis to receive, especially if it’s your first time. There are many things you need to do after receiving the news so that you can go back to living normally as soon as possible.
Here are some of the most important steps:
- Get support from friends and family
Having someone who understands what you’re going through can be a great comfort. Talk to Hong Kong Cancer Fund about how you’re feeling and what your plans are for the future.
- Make a treatment plan
It will include the type of cancer, stage, and treatments that are recommended for you.
- Start preparing for surgery
If surgery is recommended, start thinking about how you’ll stay healthy after your operation. It includes making arrangements for food supplies and taking care of any necessary paperwork.
- Take care of yourself well
Take time to sleep, eat well, and keep active throughout the day so that you’re in good shape when you go in for surgery.
- Make lifestyle changes
If needed, make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer recurring in the future. It may include quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, and eating a healthier diet.
- Stay positive
The thought of having cancer is scary for everyone, but remember that many people have gone through treatment and come out healthy and stronger than ever before. You can do it too!
Breast cancer is a serious disease that affects many people each year. However, if it’s caught early on, the chances of beating it are high. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of breast cancer’s risk factors and symptoms and have regular screenings done. If you have breast cancer, there is life after diagnosis, and you can still live a full and happy life. So don’t give up, and get the support you need to fight this disease.