Every October, the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) ramps up its efforts to rally about breast cancer awareness and you’ll see a pink ribbon perched on a lapel or three. Yet, breast cancer remains the number one killing cancer among women in Singapore—accounting for one in six cancer deaths among females (from 2013 to 2017)—and 30 percent of the cases are detected at Stage 3 or 4, which see poorer prognoses compared to the early stages.
THE FACTS AND FIGURES
The stats paint an optimistic outlook for those with Stage 0 and Stage 1 breast cancer (when atypical cells are contained to the milk ducts and the area where they first began to develop), with relative five-year survival rates of 99 and 90 percent. What that means is that the disease is a highly treatable one—if discovered and dealt with in its early stages.
The tune changes, though, when cancer is diagnosed and treated at later stages. The relative five-year survival rate drops to 80 percent for Stage 2 breast cancer (abnormal cells are growing and/or have spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes); 72 percent for Stage 3 (cancer cells have spread beyond the breast, but not to distant organs); and 25 percent for Stage 4 (the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, bones and brain).
Which underscores the importance of early detection and treatment—a key message the BCF has been promoting, through awareness talks, events and publications, since its founding more than two decades ago.
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