Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a form of cancer that originates from breast tissue. It is currently the world’s mostly commonly diagnosed cancer. When diagnosed and treated early, breast cancer is often curable.
Last Updated: September 27, 2023

There is no single established cause of breast cancer. Several factors have been identified to increase the risk of developing the disease in some individuals, including: • Hormonal risk factors, such as early onset of menstruation, late menopause, and obesity and estrogen therapy after menopause; • Individual risk factors, such as female sex and advanced age; • Lifestyle factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption; • Hereditary risk factors, such as history of breast cancer among first-degree relatives.

The presentation of breast cancer depends on the size and extent of the mass. It may present with: • A lump, thickening or swelling of the breast • Unusual change in the size or shape of the breast • One breast is lower than the other • Puckering/ dimpling of the skin of the breast • A sore in the nipple

The best way to get screened for breast cancer is with a mammogram (or breast x-ray). This is usually recommended to be done every year from as early as age 40. Monthly self breast examination, done one week after menstruation (if still menstruating), and an annual exam by a health worker are also recommended for early detection. All suspicious masses are submitted for biopsy. Once the breast cancer has been established, further work-up will help guide the course of management which may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three.

These are some established ways of reducing the risk of developing breast cancer: • Breastfeeding • Eating a healthy diet of low-fat, high-fiber foods • Getting enough exercise • Maintaining an ideal body weight • Stopping cigarette smoking and limiting alcohol intake • Using anti-estrogen drugs like tamoxifen (usually only given if with high risk) upon a doctor's recommendation • Undergoing mammography and regular self breast examination
Last Updated: September 27, 2023