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One person develops breast cancer every 37 minutes: Regular mammography for health

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  • Modify Date:Modify Date:2021/11/26
  • Publish Date:Publish Date:2021/03/05

On Women’s Day on March 8, the Health Promotion Administration reminds that the prevention of female cancers should start from being alert every day and urges people to remind their eligible female relatives and friends to undergo mammography and pap smear screening regularly. According to the annual report of the Health Promotion Administration, 14,217 women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018; in other words, every 37 minutes, a woman was diagnosed with breast cancer. Therefore, the incidence of breast cancer was the highest among all female cancers. One of 12 women develops breast cancer in her lifetime.

The Health Promotion Administration subsidizes  women who are 45–70 years old, and those 40–45 years old with a family history of breast cancer (i.e., their grandmothers, mothers, daughters, or sisters had or have breast cancer), to undergo mammography once every 2 years, with an aim to detect, and thus treat, the disease early. Women intending to undergo mammography should bring their National Health Insurance cards to a mammography medical institution that passed the Health Promotion Administration’s review to undergo the examination or can contact local health bureaus (offices) or health service centers. More than 80% of breast cancer cases diagnosed through mammography are at the early stage of the disease.

Reasons Women do not undergo mammography include lack of need, avoidance of pain, and perceived unimportance.

According to the National Health Interview Survey, the main reason that women do not undergo mammography is that they consider themselves healthy and think it unnecessary to undergo examination (47.9%); the other two common reasons are being too busy (26.0%) and wanting to avoid pain (14.4%). Furthermore, some women refuse it because they are afraid of discovering the disease.  

Ms. Mu, aged 50, is a busy jobholder. She considered herself healthy and did not undergo mammography. Sometime last year, she went shopping and was encouraged by a service staff member at a community service station to undergo mammography. She did it for the first time; the results indicated that she had first-stage breast cancer. At first, Ms. Wu could not accept the fact; fortunately, medical team members and her husband and children continued to care for and support her, and she gradually had the courage to confront the disease and actively seek treatment. She adopted a healthy lifestyle, recovered favorably after surgery, and ended up looking healthier than before.

To effectively maintain breast health, the Health Promotion Administration urges that women should actively develop a healthy lifestyle, regularly undergo mammography, and seek treatment soon after breast cancer is detected, and not worry about the disease.

A healthy lifestyle is key to preventing breast cancer.

Risk factors for breast cancer include early menstruation, late menopause, having never given birth, giving birth to the first child after 30 years of age, having never breastfed, having had breast cancer in the past, having a family member with breast cancer, and having ovarian cancer or endometrial cancer. Lifestyle-related risk factors include smoking, drinking, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise, which can be avoided through lifestyle changes. The American Institute for Cancer Research indicated that 38% of breast cancer cases can be prevented. Therefore, women should pay attention to whether they have any of the aforementioned risks for breast cancer. In addition, they should develop a healthy lifestyle at a young age, starting from a healthy diet and regular exercise; they should also find ways to regularly unwind and relieve stress.

Regular check

Since 2010, the Health Promotion Administration has provided mammography services. Approximately 860,000 women undergo mammography annually, and more than 4,000 of them are diagnosed with breast cancer. More than 80% of the confirmed cases are at an early stage. Thus, women should make good use of these resources and undergo a check once every 2 years if they are eligible.

Early detection leads to early treatment, and breast cancer is not incurable.

The 2018 annual report of cancer records revealed that the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer was 88% and that for breast cancer at an early stage was more than 90%. Therefore, through screening, early detection, proper follow-up, and timely and adequate medical treatment, the survival rate for breast cancer can be improved. If mammography examination results are positive, do not panic; the Health Promotion Administration has commissioned 76 Medical Centers for Breast Cancer Confirmation and Diagnosis and 75 Hospitals for Breast Cancer Confirmation,  Diagnosis, and Treatment, where people can visit for double checks . When diagnosed of cancer, women should seek professional medical diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

Following breast cancer treatment, a relapse can occur. However, by going for regular follow-ups, complying with medical advice, and understanding one’s own physical condition, early detection can lead to early treatment.

Remember, breast cancer is not incurable. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and minimizing stress are crucial for health maintenance.