Behind this layer of cloth, is there any abnormal sign?

Breast Cancer Network Vietnam is sincerely thankful for your contributions in creating this handbook for the community:

Illustration: Truong Cat Ngoc

Design support: Nguyen Tran Minh Nguyet

Consulting specialists:

  • Dr. Bui Thanh Tinh – Da Nang Oncology Hospital
  • Dr. Bui Sy Nghia – Da Nang Oncology Hospital
  • Dr. Ho Hoang Thao Quyen – University of Medical Center Ho Chi Minh city

Page 1

Take an examination for yourself, do you have any sign or symptom below ?

1.     A tumor in your breast.

2.     Change of size or shape of your breast.

Page 2

3.     Nipples have any bloody or fluid discharge, or are inverted or retracted.

4.    The breast skin above the nipples thickens, changes color, or wrinkles.

5.     Having axillary lymph node (in your armpit) or subclavian lymph node (above your clavicle – collarbone)

Page 3

To detect the previously mentioned signs and symptoms early, you should conduct a breast self-examination following the instructions below.

Breast self-examination in standing position

1.     Take off your top and stand in front of the mirror. With your arms relaxed by your side, look for any change in shape (lumps, thickened skin, dimpled spots, etc.)

2.   Put your hands on the back of the head and re-observe.

Page 4

3: Place both hands on your hips and press firmly to move your chest muscles upwards or downwards by shifting your shoulders up and down. This helps to emphasize any changes in the appearance of your breasts.

4: Stand up straight with your left hand behind your head, use your right hand to feel your left breast. Lay 4 fingers together to form a flat surface, apply evenly and gently pressure on different areas of the breast in a circular pattern, starting from the nipple to the outside edge and reverse to examine every area of your breast and armpits carefully. Repeat on the other side.

5: Press gently on the nipple and its surrounding area to check for any abnormal discharge.

Page 5

Breast self-examination in a lying position

  1. Lie on your back comfortably. Place a thin pillow under your back on the side where you plan to examine.
  2. Repeat the standing examination process.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

Breast-self examination can help you detect abnormal symptoms. It’s highly recommended that you visit a health facility to get examined by a certified professional.

Women from age 30 and above should get their breast and gynecological examination at a health facility at least 1 time/year.

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When a woman has one of these symptoms, it does not conclude that she has breast cancer. In that case, a professional screening and examination at a health facility is highly recommended for the most accurate diagnosis.

Breast cancer can be cured completely if it is detected and treated appropriately at early stages.

Anyone can get breast cancer, even men! Approximately 3,000 men get breast cancer every year around the world.

Page 7

Use the pad of 3 fingers (remember to bunch them together!)

Different breast cancer self-exam patterns:

  • Circle
  • Zigzag
  • Wedge.

Page 8

Possible risks and causes of breast cancer:

Age: the further you age, the higher the risk of breast cancer is.

Family history: people whose mother and/or sisters have breast cancer face a higher risk.

Diet and alcohol: a diet rich in fat, consuming alcohol 2-5 times/day.

Genetics: genetic mutations.

Obesity and lack of physical activities.

Page 9

Smoking: Increase your risk of getting breast cancer and complications during treatment.

Starting period too early (before age 12) or late menopause (after age 55).

Obstetric history: Women who never went through pregnancy or had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher risk.

Working late at night: Risk of low melatonin level when the body is exposed to artificial light at night.

Other factors: dense breast tissue, history of radiotherapy, history of benign breast diseases, hormone replacement therapy.

Page 10

Cancer prevention: 7 tips to reduce the risks

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: say no to smoking and drinking; stay active and eat properly.

Research history of breast cancer in your family.

Avoid using hormone-replacement therapy.

Maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity (especially during menopause)


Have your first child before age 30 is recommended

Do breast self-examination monthly

2.     Stand with both hands behind your head, inspect your breasts again.

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Breast cancer has the highest mortality rate among the popular cancers in females.

On average, 1 in 10 women has breast cancer.

More than 4.600 people die because of breast cancer each year, which constitutes 13% of deaths from cancer.

(According to the statistics in Vietnam by World Health Organization in 2012)

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More than 11.000 new breast cancer cases are diagnosed, which makes up ⅕ of the total number of cancer cases.

38.713 people survived for more than 5 years since they had been diagnosed which makes up 18.3% of the total cases.

(According to statistics in both genders in Vietnam by World Health Organization in 2012)

15.000 USD/year: Average treatment cost that a breast cancer patient needs to pay.

Most patients have no other choice but paying for their treatments using their family savings, which leads to a financial burden not only for their family but also the society.

(According to the study result from The George Institute for Global Health, which was conducted in 8 countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in 2014).

Make life pink again.

Breast Cancer Network Vietnam – BCNV

Mobile: (+084) 28 2244 6767

Add: 104A, Xuan Thuy Str., Thao Dien W., D2, HCMC