Breast Self-Exam may not be Effective! Learn about different Breast Cancer Screening Methods

In the past, cancer treatment and detection were classified according to the location of the tumour in the body, ignoring the relationship between gene mutation and cancer. Current studies have found that genetic mutations can cause many types of cancer and cause growth in tumours at different parts of the body. Therefore, once these genetic mutations are found, targeted and effective treatments can be adopted during the early stage.

There are more than 4,000 new breast cancer patients diagnosed in Hong Kong each year, and about 10% of the cases are related to gene mutations, and BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are the main high-risk mutated genes*. Although carrying a BRCA mutated gene does not mean that you have breast cancer, but the risk of breast cancer will be several times higher than the people without the gene mutation. BRCA genetic testing can detect whether the body carries this genetic mutation, and prevent it as soon as possible to reduce unnecessary burden.

*Reference: Hong Kong Cancer Statistics Centre, Hospital Authority (Statistics on Female Breast Cancer in 2017 data)

How to choose the Suitable Screening method from a variety of Cancer Screening?

In addition to regular breast self-examination or clinical examination by a professional doctor, the different cancer screening methods for breast cancer include mammography, Sonography screening, and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Scan.
Mammogram: X-ray examination of the breast, through X-ray images to determine whether there is a malignant tumour in the body. The appearance of the breasts for patients are different. Age or breast tissue density may make malignant tumours more difficult or easier to detect. Because younger patient tends to have denser breast tissue, mammography is not so effective for them.
Sonography Screening: Uses high-frequency ultrasounds waves to target tissue fluctuations. Because there is no radiation, it is suitable for pregnancy. However, Sonography relies on the experience and judgment ability of the diagnostician. Different doctors may have different results. Since fat and tumour appear to be similar under Sonography screening, fat may be misjudged as tumour. In addition, ultrasound cannot detect early precancerous lesions, so it is not ideal for early screening and prevention.
Breast MRI Scan: Use magnetic fields, radio waves, and computer technology to detect whether the breast has tumours from all directions. MRI can see the entire breast structure to determine whether the tumour is malignant. Although the MRI scan is a highly sensitive screening compare to the ones described above, but it is a very expensive diagnostic method.

The frequency of breast cancer screening recommended by each person may not be the same. People with genetic risk of breast cancer should perform breast cancer screening more frequently than the rest of the population. People can refer to the following recommended procedures issued by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)​.
Screening methods of Breast Cancer

The Importance of Understanding Breast Cancer Risks?

To know if you are a person with a high risk of breast cancer, breast cancer genetic testing is a popular cancer detection method. Breast cancer genetic testing mainly detects two breast cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2. If genetic mutations are detected, both men and women have a high risk of breast cancer and other related cancers. (For more information about BRCA gene mutations, please refer to: Is Breast Cancer Hereditary? Know more about BRCA Gene Mutation.)

Studies have shown that early detection of genetic mutations can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 90%. With targeted prevention strategies, patients can reduce the risk of advanced cancer. Early detection and early treatment can reduce the patient's physical, mental, and economic burden. At the same time, early treatment can prevent cancer cells from spreading to other body parts, thereby reducing the difficulty of the treatment process, and increasing the survival rate of the patients.

Codex Genetic BRCA 1&2 genetic testing

Codex Genetics provides CoGENESIS®BRCA screening which detects BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation by genotyping. There are more currently more than 5,000 BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations known to increase cancer risk. CoGENESIS®BRCA screening covers 3,049 of the most important mutations.