#HEALTH: Regular breast cancer screenings crucial

BREAST cancer remains the most common cancer among women, affecting one in eight globally and with approximately one in 19 women in Malaysia at risk.

According to the Breast Cancer Foundation Malaysia, the breakdown of occurrence by ethnicity in the country shows that Chinese women appear to have the highest risk, followed by Indian and Malay women.

Globally, the most effective methods for breast cancer screening still involve mammograms, often coupled with complementary ultrasound examinations.

With the advancement of technology, 3D mammography has emerged as a superior diagnostic tool, outperforming conventional mammography in detecting breast cancer, says KPJ Perdana Specialist Hospital Kota Baru, Kelantan consultant radiologist, Dr Nik Munirah Nik Mahdi.

Moreover, BRCA gene testing is also widely used to identify early breast cancer in individuals with a positive family history of breast and ovarian cancer.

"It is widely proven that early detection can save lives, therefore it is recommended that women aged 40 and above undergo mammography screenings, either annually or biennially, as advised by their healthcare consultant," says Dr Nik Munirah.

A mammogram can detect a breast lump one year before it becomes palpable to the patient and the main benefit of mammography screening lies in its potential to reduce breast cancer-related mortality.

A 2020 study published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information,

highlights that regular breast cancer screening appears to be associated with a significant decrease in the number of severe and fatal cases of breast cancer.

This reduction is not solely due to improvements in treatment methods but is, to some extent, a result of the screening process itself.

Breast Cancer - Risk Factors

*Risk escalates with:


*Genetic mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2)

*Reproductive history (early menstruation and late menopause)

*Family history of breast or ovarian cancer

*Being inactive, overweight, or obese after menopause

*Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those containing estrogen and progesterone) taken during menopause, particularly when taken for more than five years.

*First pregnancy after age 30

*Did not breastfeed or did not have a full-term pregnancy

*Alcohol consumption

Breast Cancer - Warning/Suspicious Signs

*Any lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)

*Thickening or swelling in any part of the breast

*Irritation or dimpling of breast skin

*Redness or flaky skin around the nipple area or the breast

*Nipple inversion/pain in the nipple area/nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.

*Changes in breast size or shape

*Unexplained breast pain


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