Coping with Breast Cancer

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Let’s face facts, every single one of us knows someone who has breast cancer!

Breast cancer is after all the most common female cancer in Malaysia and the second most common cancer throughout the world; lung cancer being the first. However, unlike lung cancer, breast cancer is NOT a “death sentence” if it is diagnosed early and treated well.

In actual fact, in most developed countries, the incidences as well as deaths from breast cancer have been declining due to the excellent and varied methods of treatment available at the present time. Early breast cancer is beginning to be treated like a “chronic disease” such as diabetes or hypertension, where there is also no “cure” available, but prolonged control of the disease is possible, and with good quality of life.

As much as we would like to believe that breast cancer is a disease of the elderly woman, we are in fact seeing younger women being diagnosed with breast cancer; women in their 30’s and 40’s and even those as young as 20 are getting breast cancer. This is especially so for Asian women. It is also a well known fact that 1% of breast cancer patients are men.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a painless lump in the breast or underarm. Unfortunately because there is usually no pain, women are often lulled into complacency and do nothing about this lump until it is sometimes too late. In Western countries where the incidence is very high (1 in 8 or 9 women gets breast cancer), there are government-run screening programs, but in Malaysia this is not available, and the onus is upon women aged 40 years and above to come forward for screening mammograms.

A mammogram involves an x-ray of the breasts. The radiation dose is very minimal, and is the “gold standard” for detecting early breast cancers; sometimes even before a lump can be felt, or even a pre-cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ) which is curable.

Treatments for breast cancer include surgery (breast conserving for early cancers), chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal treatments and newer targeted therapies. Most women believe that surgery always involves removal of the breast (mastectomy) but the truth is that with early cancers, the breast can be saved, or if necessary “oncoplastic” surgery can be done creating a new reconstructed breast after a mastectomy.

Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur is now in our tenth year of running our “Wear it Pink” campaign for creating breast cancer awareness. This campaign is not only to increase awareness about breast cancer but also to raise money to offer subsidized mammograms to women. The campaign runs throughout the month of October and November and women are encouraged to come for mammograms at a subsidized rate of RM90 for an analog mammogram and RM160 for a digital mammogram.


Pantai doctors will also hold health camps at Lembah Pantai community centres and at the Curve shopping centre during this campaign and will be offering free clinical breast examination by our consultants, and the teaching of “self breast examination” at these centres. To raise money for these programs, we will offer “charity bags” for a nominal sum, so do help us to raise awareness for breast cancer throughout our “WEAR IT PINK” campaign.

You may be saving someone you love!

For information please call our “Breast
Care Centre” at 03.2296 0888 ext. 837.

Source: The Expat October 2010
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