We all know and love some ladies in our life – moms, grandmothers, aunts, wives, daughters, friends, and more. Yet, according to statistics, more of them are being claimed by the deadly breast cancer.
According to the Singapore Cancer Registry study, breast cancer has surged tenfold from 40 years ago. It is presently leading cancer and the top cause of cancer deaths among women in Singapore. More women are being diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
The key to a higher recovery and survival rate is early detection and treatment of the disease. At the moment, the most efficient approach to the early diagnosis of breast cancer is mammography test.
It is an X-ray examination of women’s breasts who have yet to exhibit any symptoms. However, despite rising breast cancer rates, the screening rates for breast cancer have plateaued.
Who should go for frequent breast screenings?
As to the Ministry of Health (MOH) suggestion, women above the age of 40 should get examined once a year, while women above the age of 40 should get screened once every two years, after discussing the potential advantages and risks with their doctors.
Mammograms are not suggested for younger women for a few reasons.
- Younger women are at lesser risk of having breast cancer
- Younger women have thicker breasts, decreasing the efficiency of mammograms
- Studies have not identified any reduction in the numbers of cancer deaths in younger women who go for frequent breast tests
Why is breast screening for women important after the age of 40
Mammograms are primarily used as a screening tool to detect breast cancer in its early stages. When breast cancer is identified early, the survival rate is good; but, as the disease advances later, the survival rate reduces significantly.
When cancer is identified early, it has a better chance of being smaller and contained to a single location. This means that the likelihood of a cure is higher, and there are more treatment alternatives available to select from if one is required.
At this stage, chemotherapy and mastectomy (breast removal) are less likely to be required as part of the treatment regimen.
When cancer is discovered later, it is more likely that cancer has spread to other parts of the body by then. Treatment will be increasingly harder to obtain, and fewer treatment alternatives will be accessible to choose from in the future. The 5-year survival rate is likewise much lower than the overall rate.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mammograms can prevent 25 percent of breast cancer deaths in women over 40, according to their estimates. Other reasons for having breast screening after 40 years of age are as follows:
The greatest reduction in mortality
Annual mammography screening beginning at age 40 leads to the largest mortality reduction, the greatest number of lives saved, and the greatest number of life-years gained (LYG).
As a result, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging suggest that women over 40 get frequent mammography screenings (including 40-49).
Cancer incidence is on the rise.
Around the age of 40, the incidence of breast cancer climbs significantly. The incidence rate for those between the ages of 40 and 44 is twice that of those between 35 and 39. It is 188.6 per 100,000 women between the ages of 45 and 49, and it continues to rise until the age of 80.
Years of life have been saved.
Their 40s account for 40% of all the years of life saved by mammography, and regular screening reduces death by one-third compared to unscreened women.
It has been confirmed by the largest and longest-running breast cancer screening trials in history that frequent mammography screening reduces breast cancer deaths by around one-third in women aged 40 and over who are screened (including women ages 40-49).
The greatest reduction in mortality
According to the latest Pan-Canadian Mammography Study (Coldman et al.), which included over 2.7 million women screened in Canada, there was an average mortality reduction of 40%, which was the same for women aged 40-49 as it was for those aged 50 and above.
Compared to biannual screening, annual screening leads to more lives saved from breast cancer. According to a scientific study conducted by the USPSTF, annual screening beginning at the age of 40 results in the greatest number of lives saved.
Women begin to gain years of life when they reach the age of 40.
Women who begin mammography screening in their 40s, according to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), have a higher total number of lives saved and life-years gained than women who do not begin screening until later in life.
According to a recent study published in the journal Cancer, more than 70% of the women who died of breast cancer in their 40s at major Harvard teaching hospitals were among the 20% of women who were not getting screened
Since medical science cannot predict which cancers will progress to the point of death in a woman and which cancers will not, all women over the age of 40 should be screened periodically.
Why women at 40 don’t go for breast screening
Despite the benefits, only around 30% of older women participate in frequent screenings, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The following are some of the most typical reasons mentioned, as well as some truths you can react with to persuade your loved ones to go to the event:
I’m far too busy to schedule mammograms at this time.
The treatment itself takes only 3–5 minutes, and the entire session can be completed in under an hour. Furthermore, because the service is supplied in several sites throughout Singapore, it is quite accessible and available.
Breasts are not painful.
Mammograms are not uncomfortable for most women, though some may experience minor discomfort during the procedure.
Even if you experience discomfort, rest confident that it will only last a limited period. Furthermore, this short discomfort will ultimately be of enormous advantage to you.
Women who appear to be in good health have been known to succumb to breast cancer. Even if you are feeling good, it is still recommended that you have a mammogram for your peace of mind.
I’m not experiencing any symptoms.
Breast cancer can manifest itself in various ways, sometimes with no evident symptoms at all. You reduce your chances of identifying cancer early by waiting until symptoms appear before scheduling a screening appointment. You have a better chance of beating breast cancer if it is discovered early enough.
Getting to know that you have cancer is a terrifying realization, but the fact that you are discovering it early gives you a reason to be optimistic. The likelihood of achieving a favorable treatment outcome has increased significantly.
Things you can do to help women at 40 years go for breast screening.
You can do a few things to alleviate their fears and ease their concerns. If you meet the criteria for a mammogram, perhaps you could make an appointment with them to have one performed? If this is not possible, it would be wonderful if you could identify another female member of your family, relative, or friend who is also scheduled for screening and accompany them.
It might seem less intimidating and more like a chore with a company, and you might go out for a drink after the session to unwind and relax together. If you are of the opposite gender, you can consider scheduling a colonoscopy or some other screening test that you are scheduled for within the same time frame to demonstrate your support for the cause.
Another thing that you can do is accompany them through the mammography process so that they are aware of what is going on and can psychologically prepare themselves for the treatments that will be conducted.
It would be beneficial if you could explain the reasoning behind some of the phases in the procedure (e.g., the breasts have to be compressed to spread out the breast tissue to capture a clearer scan). To avoid this situation, it is possible to schedule a consultation with their medical professional.
Remember that these discussions are delicate and may be hurtful because they care about such a personal topic. Make an effort to be sympathetic and supportive, but also be cautious and mindful not to go over any lines. Don’t be surprised if your suggestion isn’t taken into consideration.
Mammograms are critical in the early detection of breast cancer, and it is concerning to see the rate of breast cancer increase with the number of mammograms remaining stable.
When more people are willing to make an effort to go for regular breast cancer screening, the rate of breast cancer recovery and survival may increase. The good news is that the cost of mammogram in Singapore is affordable, and also there are several 3D mammogram centre to go to for breast imaging.
Breast cancer is taking the lives of far too many women who are dear to us. In reality, some of us may have personal experience with ladies who have passed away before their time. If you care about the women in your life, show your affection for them by your acts and deeds. Your act of kindness today may very well save their lives in the years to come because of it.