1 in 20 Malaysian women develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
There are roughly 8,418 new cases annually, with an average daily incidence of 23 new cases.
It is estimated that 9 individuals die of breast cancer, totalling 3,500 deaths in a year.
Malaysian patients have a lower survival rate compared to other high-income countries, as only 7 out of 10 patients survive at least 5 years after diagnosis.
Reason for Increased Risk
Only 1 in 10 Malaysian women regularly attend breast screening sessions. This means that detection is often delayed and the disease would have reached a more critical stage. Most women also have limited access to life-saving therapies due to their high cost.
Gender, age and genetics play the predominant role in the increased risk of breast cancer.
While men can get breast cancer, it is naturally more common in women. There is also an increased risk of the disease in women above 50, and in women who haven't had children or had their first child after age 30.
Inheriting a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene would substantially increase your odds of getting cancer. Likewise, lifestyle habits like high alcohol consumption also put you at risk as it leads to enhanced permeability of cell membranes to carcinogens.
Recognising the Symptoms
New lumps, thickening or swelling of the breast or underarm (armpit).
Irritation, dimpling redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple/breast area.
Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
Go for regular breast screenings for early detection. Choose from clinical breast examinations (CBE), mammography - particularly for those above 40, or a more budget-friendly breast self-examination.
Alternatively, you may opt to do gene testing to investigate your personal risks of inheriting a faulty gene, then take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk.