Your frequently asked questions, answered by Specialist General Surgeon, Dr. Jawaher Charles Mathias.
1. What are the different ways to detect breast cancer?
Good history and examination, ultrasound scan, Mammogram (Xray) after 40 years, are the basic tests. Sometimes MRI scans of breasts. Followed by needle or biopsy of the suspicious lump to be examined under the microscope.
2. Are there any early signs?
Early breast cancer is mostly asymptomatic. Finding a painless lump is the most common way patients are presented to a breast surgeon.
3. Is there an age that women should start having check-ups?
We usually recommend after 40 years, but as breast cancer is getting more common and seen in younger patients and patients in a high-risk group, we advise breast self-examination, check-ups, and ultrasound examination at age 25 and above.
4. How often should women go in for check-ups?
Monthly breast self-examination, yearly ultrasound scans, and mammograms every 2 years.
5. What are the best self-examination tests?
Women are advised to examine their breasts soon after their periods. They should stand in front of a mirror and look for skin changes and examine them methodically quadrant-wise with the flat of their fingers or palm.
6. Are there any groups that are more at risk?
Yes, women who have had close relatives who have had breast cancer, or those who have had a relative with the gene mutation (BRCA1, BRCA2) present.
7. Is it possible to find out when in the last stage of breast cancer is and what the cure for it?
Once diagnosed with cancer, we stage the disease depending on whether it is still only in the breast (stage 1) or has already involved the lymph nodes (stage 2) or spread to organs beyond (liver, lungs, bones etc.) Stage 3.
8. What is the survival rate with breast cancer in the UAE?
As everywhere else, this depends on the stage at which it was diagnosed and the urgency with which treatment was initiated.