Causes and Symptoms

The causes

The exact causes of breast cancer are unknown, however, there are many factors that are widely believed to increase your risk:

  • Age: the median age of women with breast cancer in Hong Kong is 58 (according to Hong Kong Cancer Registry’s statistics figures in 2021), but there’s an increasing trend of women being diagnosed in their late 30s or early 40s.

  • Family history: having a close relative, such as a mother, sister or daughter who has been diagnosed with breast cancer can increase your risk.

Other factors include: a woman’s hormone levels, early onset of menstruation, late onset of menopause, late age of first pregnancy, and never having been pregnant.

The symptoms

You should be aware of the following signs:

  • A lump, lumpiness or thickening in your breast

  • Changes in the skin, such as puckering, dimpling or a rash

  • New and persistent discomfort or pain in the breasts or armpit

  • A change in the shape or size of a breast

  • Discharge from a nipple, nipple rash or a change in the nipple’s shape

Pain in your breast is not usually a symptom of breast cancer. In fact, many healthy women find their breasts feel lumpy and tender before their period, and some benign breast lumps can be painful.

Early detection of breast cancer means there’s a better chance of recovery. Examine your breasts regularly and have regular mammograms if you’re over the age of 40.

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