Breast health – an article by Raffles Hospital
Take Charge of Your Breast Health
Breast cancer in women has seen a sharp rise in recent years, making it currently the leading
cause of cancer in women globally. Thankfully, breast cancer can be cured if detected early. “Cure rates in Raffles Hospital for breast cancer can be as high as 90%,” says Dr Donald Poon, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Raffles Hospital.
Treatment depends on many factors, including the type of cancer and the extent to which it has spread. Treatment options for breast cancer include surgery to remove the cancer tumour or, in some cases, mastectomy in which the entire breast is removed, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Breast Conserving Surgery
“Breast cancer no longer equates to losing one’s entire breast. Surgical treatment can be tailored for best survival and cosmetic outcomes,” says Dr Felicia Tan Consultant General Surgeon, Raffles Hospital. “We are able to treat breast cancers with breast-conserving surgery, which removes the cancerous tumour without causing significant deformity to the breast.” With advances in technology, most breast lumps can be removed with minimally invasive methods, such as the vacuum assisted breast biopsy. This allows for small breast lumps to be removed through a needle inserted under image guidance. Unlike core needle biopsy, which involves separate needle insertions to remove multiple samples, the new probe is inserted only once to remove multiple samples. Small breast lumps can be completely removed using this. This procedures can be done in the clinic under local anaesthesia without the need of hospital stay.
For tumours in the breast that are too small to be felt, the common method involves locating the tumour by a wire guide with reference to radiographic scans (eg: ultrasound and mammogram). Problems with this method include a 30% to 40% miss rate, longer procedure time (translating to higher cost), and pain to the patient. A new procedure called radioisotope occult lesion localisation (ROLL) allows for these pre-cancerous or cancerous lumps to be localised accurately and painlessly through injection of a radioactive tracer using fine insulin needles. With the use of gamma probe, Dr Tan is able to localize the lesion during the surgery and, based on the remnant tracer activity, ensure that the lump is removed surgically with a proper margin of resection. Dr Tan is pioneer of ROLL in the region and introduced the procedure to Singapore in 2011.
Immediate Breast Reconstruction
If mastectomy is required, the hospital offers immediate breast reconstruction surgery that is done at the same time as the mastectomy. “Immediate reconstruction has psychological and aesthetic benefits”, says Prof Walter Tan, Consultant General Surgeon & Plastic Surgeon and Medical Director of Raffles Hospital. “It restores the patient’s body image. It also allows the surgical team to plan the surgery to preserve the most breast skin. With immediate breast reconstruction, the patient avoids the risks of a second operation.”
For late stage cancer, the advent of targeted therapy has improved survival in stage four breast cancer patients by adding years of good quality life. Targeted therapy allows anti-cancer drugs to zoom in to destroy cancer cells of the body.
Major advances in cancer chemotherapy have been achieved over the years, increasing the cure rate as well as the average survival of cancer patients. These improvements give us cause of optimism in our relentless pursuit of better cancer treatment.
In additions, patients of Raffles Hospital have an option of obtaining a second opinion review by a cancer specialist from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York under a special affiliation between the two institutions. In keeping with its philosophy of team-based care, Raffles Hospital avails to cancer patients a range of patient support services such as pain management, counseling services, and Traditional Chinese Medicine to meet their medical, emotional, and psychosocial needs.
“Be vigilant but not anxious about any breast symptoms that you may experience. Any lump in the breast should be investigated by a breast specialist, bearing in mind that three in four lumps are noncancerous. It is important that we also treat benign conditions, as some may be pre-malignant lesions that will become cancerous in time,’ advises Dr Felicia Tan.
About Raffles – Your Trusted Medical Partner
Raffles Hospital is a tertiary hospital offering a comprehensive range of specialist services. Backed by 35 years of experience delivering quality medical care, the Raffles brand name is trusted and synonym with quality.
For further information, appointment booking and medical enquiries please contact:
Raffles International Office
Menara Anugrah 1st Floor, Kantor Taman E 3.3, Jl. Mega Kuningan Lot 8.6 – 8.7
Kawasan Mega Kuningan, Jakarta 12950
Phone : (62 21) 5785 3979, Fax : (62 21) 5785 3977, 24 Hour Hotline : (65) 6311 1111
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