KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — In high-income countries, nine out of 10 breast cancer patients can survive for up to 10 years. In Malaysia, however, the national average is much lower, with just five out of 10 surviving as long.
Hologic, a company specialising in breast and skeletal health, has encouraged Malaysian women to go for breast cancer screenings on a regular basis.
Established in 1985, Hologic offers a wide range of products that can help detect, diagnose, treat illnesses and other health conditions earlier with their latest medical technology, catered specially for women.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, two million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and it is predicted the number of Asian women diagnosed will double in the next 30 years. It is likely that this rising number is partly impacted by misconceptions towards breast cancer screenings.
One contributing factor is the fear of mammography, said Hologic. Women are afraid to go for their screenings as they believe it is a painful and unbearable experience. Being raised in Asian culture, most women have expressed that they feel ashamed to go for breast cancer screenings based on a case study.
Culturally, Malaysian women are more conservative and tend to feel uncomfortable when having to expose their bodies to doctors. This lends to the act of procrastination when it comes to making screening appointments. Women in Malaysia also tend to view mammograms as a long and arduous procedure and wrongly perceive that they will need to get admitted into a hospital to get a mammogram done.
Furthermore, there is a rising concern with the increasing number of younger women being diagnosed with breast cancer. A lot of young women do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer, wrongly perceiving the disease to be one that only plagues mature women when in truth, there are a few external factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer such as alcohol, smoking, being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle with little to no exercise, said Hologic.
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Asian women are more likely to have denser tissues in their breasts compared to Caucasian women. Due to the tissue superimposition density, Malaysian women may have a harder time detecting breast cancer in its early stages as the denser the breast tissue, the more difficult it is to detect the cancer on a 2D mammogram.
However, with the advancements in screening tool technologies, 3D mammograms can detect the lesion superimposition as small as a millimetre wherever it may be hiding in the breast tissues. 3D mammograms use a low dose of X-ray to show 3D images of the breast on a digital screen.
To do this, the machine scans from various angles and takes X-ray ‘slices’ through the breast to ensure that it does a thorough scan throughout the overlapping breast tissue. This accuracy and thoroughness makes it much easier for radiologists to detect breast cancer even in the most dense breast tissues, ensuring the patient’s peace of mind.
Led by Linda Seah, Hologic’s vice president and general manager to the Southeast Asia region, Hologic said it is on a mission to detect breast cancer in preliminary stages, by recommending women to not only go for early detection screenings, but to do so regularly and if possible, to especially seek out 3D mammograms.
With such rapid advancement in screening technology, Hologic recommended 3D mammogram screenings, touting discovery of 20 per cent to 65 per cent more invasive breast cancers as compared to 2D screenings alone. According to Hologic, 3D mammography technology has also been proven to reduce callbacks by up to 40 per cent on average, allowing women assurance and peace of mind post screening.
With increased education and discourse in breast health, women should encourage each other to undergo regular breast cancer screenings once every two years.
“With this in mind, Hologic hopes to drive home the advantages of 3D mammography to their fullest potential and urge Malaysian women to adopt the 3D mammograms for themselves and their loved ones, ultimately minimising doubt and anxiety for women about breast cancer and the disease’s diagnosis,” Hologic said in a statement.