More women are being diagnosed with breast cancer each year. According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the number of women with breast cancer has increased 3 times from 40 years ago. Breast cancer is now the leading cancer for women and the number 1 cause of cancer deaths of women in Singapore.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that regular breast screening reduces 25% of breast cancer deaths in women over the age of 50. When cancer is detected early, there are higher chances of survival and recovery, more treatment options to choose from, and higher chances of preserving the breast.
Unfortunately, fear is still a hurdle for many women when choosing to go for a mammogram, the key to early detection of breast cancer.
Here are some truths to remember, if you are still hesitating to get screened.
Hurdle #1: “I am healthy – things like cancer don’t happen to me!”
- Cancer is not selective
- Breast cancer has been known to befall healthy women with healthy lifestyles
- An important step to keep yourself truly healthy is to go for regular checks
Hurdle #2: “I don’t have any symptoms. Why should I go for screening?”
- Breast cancer often occurs with no obvious symptoms
- The sooner breast cancer is detected, the more chances you have of beating it and the more treatment options you have
Hurdle #3: “Mammogram has radiation and it will kill healthy cells in my body!”
- Mammograms are safe and are key to detecting breast cancer early
- The amount of radiation from a mammogram is equivalent to roughly 2 – 3 months of average background radiation
Hurdle #4: "I am scared – what if I really have cancer?"
- Early detection = higher chance of cure and more treatment options
- When detected early enough, you might not even have to go for chemotherapy and mastectomy
Reality: As you age, your risk for developing breast cancer increases.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) recommends all women above 50 to go for breast screening once every 2 years, and those above 40 to go for annual breast screening after consulting with their doctors about the potential benefits and risks.
So – make the right choice for yourself and your loved ones. Fear and uneasiness is a small price to pay if it means detecting breast cancer early. There’s no excuse not to screen. It’s your life and no one can protect it better than you.
Infographic brought to you by Mount Elizabeth Hospital