Facing Breast Cancer

written by Dr Harjit Kaur on 6 July 2009

The Jakarta Post  |  Sun, 02/01/2009 5:11 PM  |  Supplement 

Breast cancer, the most lethal form of cancer in women, is becoming more prevalent in Asia, affecting women of younger age than those in Europe.
In the U.S., one out of eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It is estimated that one million cases will be identifi ed this year, and about 500,000 new and existing patients will die from the disease. Eighty percent of the cases occur in women over 50 in the U.S. But throughout Asia, younger women continue to be diagnosed, with most of the symptoms going undetected for years.
“More and more women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age. On average, most of my patients are in their 30s, some cases even start immediately after the 20s,” explained Dr. Harjit Kaur, the breast and endocrine surgeon at the Prince Court Medical Center.
Treating a number of Indonesian patients under her care, she mentioned that eight to 10 patients come in every day for breast-related problems. “Not all of them are cancer, but the number of cancer patients has certainly gone up since four years ago,” she said.
Previously sub-specializing in breast and endocrine surgery at Putrajaya Hospital for fi ve years, Dr. Harjit saw cases where patients had sought medical help too late after discovering a lump in a breast.
“Indonesians and most women in Malaysia tend to come late to doctors due to the fear of losing a breast. They should know that the sooner they seek attention, the better their outlook will be.”
Even the smallest lump takes at least six months to form. “That’s why we’ve been advocating mammogram screening at least at the age of 40. Chances are, we will be able to pick up some signs long before anyone can actually feel it, thus increasing the chances of survival.”
The hospital is also equipt with the lates technology to detect the smallest lymph nodes. She confi rmed that patients should not be worried about the possibility of losing a breast, that if a mastectomy is necessary, breast reconstruction is initiated immediately.
“With the direct treatment, we hope to reduce the traumatic experience so they don’t have to wait too long before finally getting an implant.”
Serving more than 14 years for the government, Dr. Harjit Kaur Perdamen received her gazettement as a breast and endocrine surgeon from the Director General of Health, Ministry of Health of Malaysia in 2005, receiving certifi cates of excellence in service in 2000 and 2006.