Doctors have recently emphasized the importance of regular check-ups and self-examination to detect early signs of breast cancer, after a recent case of a patient who sought the removal of breast lumps by tuina (推拿), a traditional form of acupressure massage.
The 57-year old woman bumped her chest six months ago. She thought a lump in her breast was a blood clot resulting from her fall, so she opted for tuina, acupressure massage for reduction of blood clots.
However, the breast lump grew larger after her acupressure massage. During an examination at a clinic, doctors discovered that she had stage three breast cancer, but she still refused to undergo medical treatment.
Yang Tsun-lung (楊圳隆), head of general surgery at the Shin Kong Memorial Hospital in Taipei, yesterday said the doctors arranged for her transfer to his hospital, where a follow-up examination revealed the lump had grown to twice its original size, from 3cm to 6cm.
Yang said that he explained the situation to the patient and her family, telling them she should undergo further treatment.
However, the woman refused to believe she had breast cancer and refused any further treatment.
Now all Yang can do is hope the woman’s family will read news reports about her condition and persuade her to seek proper treatment.
Last year, Shin Kong Memorial Hospital performed breast cancer screenings and examinations on over 10,000 women between the ages of 45 and 69, with 702 of them found to have breast cancer, a diagnosis rate of 4.1 percent.
The hospital’s patient case administrator said for cases requiring a follow-up examination within three months, about 90 percent of the women returned for a second examination.
Yang said patients who had undergone regular screening and testing for cancer were better able to cooperate and communicate with doctors, while those who did not undergo regular screening and testing, or those with lower educational levels, were more likely to evade the issue and avoid facing the reality of cancer.
He pointed to medical research results and recommendations by the Department of Health that show women between the ages of 45 and 69 should undergo a mammogram at least once every two years to enable early detection.
Yang said that women should go to the hospital for a proper examination if they found during breast self-examination one or more of the following symptoms — breast lumps, swollen breasts, dull pain, unusual nipple discharge or swelling of the lymphatic glands in the armpit.