Our founder, Jenny Lee says that “taking care of our women’s health is as good as taking care of the family wealth and total happiness! A lot of women always think that breast cancer is scary and is the most common cancer in Singapore. However, are you aware that breast cancer at early detection can be cured and the latest 3D mammograms for those 40 and above are so much more comfortable than the 2D mammogram? Regular self-checks and yearly breast check-ups by professionals are important to detect breast health issues and can save lives!!!
Hereby, let us find out more through this media-exclusive tour and Q&As for breasts health issues:
Founded with the belief to do better, Solis brings together and convenes a team of dedicated breast surgeons and breast radiologists to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to breast care. Solis integrates their services and facilities to provide patients with the expert care they need and deserve in the most seamless way possible, all under one roof. Solis Breast Care & Surgery Centre offers all-inclusive services such as diagnosis, procedures, surgery, and post-care. For comprehensive screening services, Solis works together with Luma Women’s Imaging Centre to deliver thorough investigations and comprehensive treatments. Solis also partners with CAN-CARE to provide access to professional
post-care advice, emotional support, and innovative post-care products on a single platform.
Many young Singaporean women may have the preconceived notion that breast cancer would only happen at an older age, or that they do not need to go for breast health screening because there is no history of cancer in their family. However, in recent years, many women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.
We speak to Dr Lee Wai Peng at Solis Breast Care & Surgery Centre to find out more about
breast cancer and pregnancy in young women.
Dr Lee specialises in treating benign and breast conditions. Prior to joining Solis, she was a Senior Consultant and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Changi General Hospital (CGH), a position she grew into following the completion of her advanced specialty training in general surgery in 2014. She strives to provide holistic and individualised care with a personal touch for ladies with breast conditions and is a strong advocate for encompassing cosmesis with surgical therapy.
Q1: What are some symptoms that mothers may face during and after pregnancy that can be mistaken for breast cancer?
A: Our breasts undergo multiple changes during and after pregnancy. Lumpy breasts and even breast nodules/lumps are common symptoms that are encountered that may be mistaken to be breast cancer. Uneven breast tissue (lumpy breast) can be due to the hormonal change that is happening in the lady and breast nodules/lumps may be due to blocked ducts/milk cysts or even infections such as abscesses. Blood from the nipple may be due to excoriation or injury to the nipple as a result of poor latching technique. This may be mistaken to be breast cancer where patients may also present with bloody nipple discharge.
Q2. Once a woman contracts mastitis, will it become a reoccurring issue?
A: Mastitis can recur at any point in time, particularly so in lactating women. In such instances, it may be attributed to one or more of these factors: breasts not emptied, unable to fully empty their breasts during breastfeeding or an injury to the nipple resulting in bacteria entering the breast. Women who have diabetes or conditions that may suppress their immunity will have an increased risk of developing mastitis as well as recurrent episodes.
Q3: For women who were previously diagnosed with breast cancer but have completed their course of treatment/chemotherapy:
i) Is it advisable for them to try to conceive?
A: If the couple desires a child, they are strongly encouraged to discuss with their oncologist on the appropriate/suitable timing. Chemotherapy will affect the fertility of women hence if fertility is desired possibly after their treatment or when cancer is in remission, it is advisable to discuss it with their oncologist or breast specialist prior to the commencement of any treatment.
ii) How long would they have to “recuperate” their body before they would like to try to have a baby?
A: This would be largely dependent on the type of treatment that they have undergone and how mentally ready the couple is to move to another phase in their life. I would suggest a detailed discussion with your medical physicians to establish the best time interval for trying for a child.
Q4: Have you been seeing more younger women (e.g. age could range from 20 to 35 years old) diagnosed with breast cancer and/or other breast health issues in recent years? If so:
i) Are they usually in the early or later stage of cancer?
A: This often varies. This is because screening advice is often recommended for ladies above the age of 40. Hence, ladies below 40 most often present to a breast specialist when they feel a breast lump. If left ignored, should this lump be cancerous, the cancerous cells may progress further, resulting in ladies presenting at a later stage of cancer. However, we do see a fair number of younger ladies being diagnosed at an early stage and this finding is often incidental due to health screening.
ii) If detected early, will most patients usually get through the “cancer survival rate”?
A: As with any cancer, early detection saves lives. Similarly for breast cancers, the earlier we pick them up through screening (i.e. mammogram for those ladies above the age of 40 or breast self-examination), the better the chances for survival and the lower the risk for relapse. Breast cancer in a young lady (<40 years old) can potentially be associated with an underlying genetic mutation. It may be advisable to seek your doctor’s advice if genetic testing is required in such instances.
iii) Breast health issues – Are younger women getting more lumps and bumps (e.g. benign conditions)? What could it be possibly due to? When biopsy is required, is there such a thing where there is a “best” or “less painful” type of biopsy?
A: Thankfully due to increased awareness of breast health, physicians may notice more ladies who discover lumps in their breasts during self-examination. At least 80% of breast lumps tend to be benign (non-cancerous). Such benign lumps are not genetically linked. Some of the common causes include fibroadenomas and breast cysts. Breast biopsies these days are done largely as an outpatient setting and local anaesthesia often suffices. The simplest technique is known as core (needle) biopsy where the different portions of the breast nodule are sampled.
Vacuum-assisted biopsy is currently the more popular technique for breast biopsy where a
breast lump, if small enough, can also be removed at the same setting (minimally invasive method). In a vacuum biopsy, the wound is extremely small unlike the conventional breast lump removal (excision). The above two biopsy methods can be done fairly quickly, and pain is manageable with very minimal analgesics.
Q5: Should a patient be diagnosed with breast cancer during her pregnancy, how are treatment plans best tailored for the patient?
A: In such instances, a multidisciplinary team approach will be extremely beneficial for the care of this patient. The team would include her gynaecologist, breast specialist, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. The priority of care and the well-being of her unborn foetus should be carefully discussed with the patient and her spouse.
While the risk of breast cancer does increase with age, all women are at risk of getting
diagnosed. Since young women are also susceptible to breast cancer and breast health issues, it is also important for young women to do regular self-checks and screenings in order to ensure that any breast health concerns are picked up early. Ultimately, early detection is always the best, and hence we hope to encourage women not to be afraid of getting a breast health check for their own well-being. With Solis, you will be provided with the expert care you need and deserve – in the most seamless way possible. Therefore, there is no need to fear, because with Solis, you know you will always be in good hands with the breast care you deserve.
Although regular breast screenings are recommended for women above the age of 40, this does not mean that it is not possible for younger women to be diagnosed with breast cancer. 1 in 6 cases of breast cancer in Singapore occurs in women under the age of 45 years old.
Fix your appointments at the largest private and one-stop service at Solis Breast Care & Surgery Centre now for your breast health concerns!
For more information on Solis Breast Care and Surgery Centre, please visit:
For more information on Luma Women’s Imaging Centre, please visit:
For more information on CAN-CARE, please visit: