Top things to know about female cancers
In Singapore, some of the female cancers that affect women most are breast, ovarian, and cervical. Knowing about these cancers, such as what you can do to prevent them or detect them at an early stage, may help save your life.
Knowing cancer to beat cancer – means we can reduce the risk of such cancers from arising in the first place by putting ourselves in a better position to manage and ultimately eliminate them altogether.
In this article by Pacific Prime Singapore, we will look at the aforementioned cancers occurring in women and understand what they are and how we can go about managing them.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for Singaporean women. The disease can occur at any age, but the risk increases as you get older. Breast cancer develops in the milk ducts and glands found in breasts. Malignant cells can spread from these within the breast and to other parts of the body.
Some women may have a greater chance of having breast cancer than others, due to family history and the inheritance of mutated BRCA1/BRCA2 genes.
What is BRCA?
The BReast CAncer genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 – are two separate genes that have been found to impact a person’s chances of developing breast cancer for both men and women.
Every human has both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and despite what their names might suggest, BRCA genes do not cause breast cancer. In fact, these genes normally play a big role in preventing breast cancer.
They generally help repair damaged DNA that can lead to cancer and the uncontrolled growth of aggressive tumors. For this, BRCA genes are commonly known as tumor suppressor genes. These genes are the blueprints for tumor suppressor proteins that help repair damaged DNA and ensures the stability of the cell’s genetic material.
BRCA mutation risks
When there is a mutation to the BRCA gene, it may no longer be effective at repairing broken DNA and helping to prevent breast cancer. Without tumor suppressor proteins repairing the damaged and broken DNA, malignant cells are likely to form.
What you can do
Detecting breast cancer early – when it is small and isolated – can make treatment easier and help prevent deaths from the disease. It is recommended to get regular screening tests as the chances of surviving breast cancer increases with early detection.
The mammogram is currently the most reliable screening tool for breast cancer, as it can detect the presence of tiny cancerous lumps, even before they can be felt with the hand. This means that treatment can be given to slow the growth or eliminate the malignant cells early on before they grow out of control.
Female cancers – uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancers
For some cancers, your gender itself is the main and sometimes only reason why you can be more predisposed to them. This is apparently true for those of the female reproductive system – ovarian, uterine and cervical cancers.
Reproductive systems – uterine cancer, ovarian and cervical cancers
Uterine cancer is also known as endometrial cancer and is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in females in Singapore. This female type of cancer occurs when cells grow abnormally in the inner lining of the womb (uterus), with the risk of developing uterine cancer increasing with age.
Uterine cancer tends to affect women who have been pregnant, females that are older, and women with irregular menses or periods or diabetes. Symptoms are seen at an early stage, such as unusual vaginal bleeding or spotting and pelvic pain.
On the other hand, cervical cancers and ovarian cancers do not show early warning signs.
In ovarian cancer, only when the disease is at an advanced stage does the patient experience symptoms like constant indigestion, loss of appetite, nausea, and bloating. The risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer further increases with late menopause, having children at a later age or not having any children.
Additionally, cervical cancer also shows no symptoms. Just like ovarian cancer, when symptoms show like urination difficulty or vaginal bleeding, the disease is already considered advanced. Cervical cancer is different from genetically related cancers like breast cancer, as it is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is transmitted during sexual intercourse. All women who engage in sexual activity are at risk of developing cervical cancer. This is particularly true if you have multiple partners.
What you can do to reduce your risk of developing female cancers
To empower women in ensuring that their risks are lowered and the detection of female cancers are made as early as possible, the following should be done:
- Pelvic examinations for uterine cancer.
Women should address any concerns with a health care provider about their risk for uterine cancer and also seek advice on getting regular pelvic exams.
- Using contraception, such as a condom.
If you are in several relationships or want to protect against HPV infections, it is advisable to use barrier contraceptives. These prevent infections from crossing over from person to person.
- HPV vaccines
HPV vaccines can protect against certain HPV infections linked to cancer.
- Learn about the warning signs of uterine cancer
Currently, there is no simple or reliable way to test for uterine cancer, which is why precautions should be taken by seeking the attention of a gynecologist specializing in the female reproductive organs.
Secure comprehensive medical insurance with Pacific prime Singapore before cancer is detected.
The general consensus is that all health insurance plans offered by Pacific Prime Singapore cover all costs related to treatment, especially for breast cancer. These include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, mastectomy and so forth.
For those considering private health insurance, it is worth mentioning that if you were previously diagnosed with any particular cancer in the past, insurers will most likely put it down as a pre-existing condition, which will not be covered.
However, there are plans available that will cover cancer if you have been pre-diagnosed before. Insurers of these plans will attach a loading (higher premium) or other conditions like a waiting period before you can submit any claims relating to the cancer.
Pacific Prime Singapore’s health insurance partners
Pacific Prime Singapore works closely with exceptional insurance providers that provide excellent service for their policyholders by having an outstanding knowledge of health insurance in Singapore. They include:
- Raffles Health Insurance
- AXA Insurance Pte Ltd
- Aetna Singapore
- Allianz Care Singapore
- Cigna Singapore
Contact our advisor today for a free quote and plan comparison.
His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
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