Solis Breast Treatment and Surgery Centre, which was established on the tenet that every patient deserves individualised care, collaborates closely with Luma Women’s Imaging Centre, where a team of breast surgeons and breast radiologists uses a multidisciplinary approach to breast care. They work to give tailored, all-encompassing care to their patients, including diagnostics, breast cancer treatments, reconstruction surgeries, 3D mammograms, ultrasound, MRI screenings, and other procedures.
Seven eminent breast surgeons, each with a focus on a different aspect of breast surgery, are gathered here. Together, they collaborate to create individualised treatment plans for patients that put the well-being of the patient first and enhance their quality of life. They do this by combining an evidence-based approach with empathy and compassion.
One of their shero surgeons is Dr Chan Ching Wan- a senior consultant, who is particularly interested in how cancer develops and how to prevent and treat it. Since 2009, Dr Chan has also served as an assistant professor at NUS’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. She served as the Cluster Sub-specialty Lead for Breast Services in Singapore’s National University Health System before to joining Solis. Dr Chan also served as the National Cancer Institute of Singapore’s Tumour Programme Lead for Breast Oncology.
I believed going into the interview that Dr Chan was destined to specialize in breast cancer based on her past performance. I was shocked to find that Chan never thought of specializing in breast cancer, though. For more information on how she stumbled into this specialised medical profession, her journey thus far, and some fantastic advice for women, especially new mothers, on breast healthcare during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we speak with breast cancer surgeon Dr Chan Ching Wan from Solis Breast Care & Surgery Centre.
Q. What was the main inspiration behind your keen interest in this field?
Dr Chan: I worked in general surgery and dealt with a variety of cases, especially those involving general malignancies when I was earning my PhD at the University of Bristol in 1999. While working on a project about breast cancer was actually just a detour in my training, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I had made because I immediately realized how fascinating it was and how it expanded my thinking. After that, I feel like I just fell into it because it really forced me to think about things from a variety of angles.
Q. Reports suggest that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Asia and one of the major health problems in most countries in the region. Could you share more on the importance of breast health and care?
Dr Chan: Singaporeans are quite aware of breast cancer, yet many of them still refuse to have mammograms. You must take time off and attend regular screenings. preferably every two years. It truly does make a difference.
Q. As a 32-year-old new mom, I don’t remember the last time I got tested for breast cancer. How often should women consider getting a diagnosis and why?
Dr Chan: Many young women in Singapore may hold the misconception that breast cancer only develops later in life or that they do not require breast cancer screening because there is no family history of the disease. But in recent years, a lot of women with newly discovered breast cancer do not have a family history. At 30+, we strongly advise women to do regular self-examinations and get a screening done at least once every two years.
Start getting mammograms by the age of 50, and repeat them every two years for the typical woman at average risk—who has never had breast cancer, has no family history of the disease or ovarian cancer, and has no palpable breast lumps.
I advise women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer to begin mammography at age 40, or 10 years before the age of their relatives’ first cancer diagnosis, whichever comes first. They should talk to their breast surgeon about whether this needs to be done annually or every two years.
Women who have previously undergone an aberrant biopsy that revealed abnormal (atypical) cells (lobular carcinoma in situ/lobular neoplasia, atypical ductal hyperplasia) are at higher risk and must undergo annual mammograms from the time of diagnosis. It will also be necessary for breast cancer survivors to get annual mammograms.
Q. What are some of the main paradigms in breast cancer diagnosis and surgical treatment options?
Dr Chan: The most typical breast cancer presentation is breast lumps. However, the majority of breast lumps are benign or non-cancerous. Either a solid lump or a cyst filled with fluid may be present. Treatment is not necessary for the majority of benign breast lumps.
In the clinic, simple treatments can be carried out such as fine-needle aspiration cytology, aspiration of cysts and breast abscesses, image-guided biopsies of breast masses, lymph nodes, or microcalcifications, drainage of superficial breast abscesses, and excision of the nipple/areolar papilloma.
When it comes to more extensive procedures involving surgery, the operation a patient receives is determined by the size and location of the cancer as well as what is best for her. Every time, we walk patients through their options and suggest the best one for them.
Q. There is a lack of awareness around breast reconstruction procedures. Could you shed some light on how these procedures can help cancer survivors?
Dr Chan: To give you the care you deserve, we collaborate with passion and purpose. To build treatment regimens that are specifically tailored to your requirements, we mix an evidence-based strategy with compassion and empathy. With Solis, your recovery is our top priority, and we’re here to support you by educating and empowering you.
Breast reconstruction is a process that replaces the breast that was removed after a mastectomy to treat a woman’s cancer. Some patients might choose saline or silicone implants. Other procedures make use of tissue from other body sections of the lady. Only one side of a breast may be reconstructed if only one breast has been impacted by cancer. However, in order for the unaffected breast to “match” more naturally with the reconstructed breast, surgery may be required. Reconstructed breasts typically don’t feel or function the same as natural breasts. In addition, although every effort is made to minimize these scars, some scarring may still be visible from the mastectomy process itself or from reconstruction techniques.
One very important thing to understand here is that whether the breast has been repaired or not, breast cancer can recur in some circumstances. The risk of recurrent breast cancer is unaffected by breast reconstruction. Plus, breast reconstruction procedures can help the patient with recovery.
Q. Can you please explain the patient-first approach at Solis Breast Care and Surgery Centre?
Dr Chan: With the conviction that we can do better, Solis was established. We exist for our patients and are breast care professionals at heart. For this reason, we have accepted the duty of coordinating the efforts of breast care surgeons and specialists while merging our offerings. That is how we can give you the professional care you require and deserve in the most seamless manner. Because of Solis, you can be sure that you are always in good hands.
Q. What is the biggest highlight of your career- what makes you content and happy?
Dr Chan: The biggest joy is watching women go through cancer, fight it, survive it and live full, happy lives. That’s a constant highlight 🙂
Learn more about Solis at https://www.solis.sg
Find your #confidencethroughclarity for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and put breast care first.
Solis offers a thorough breast screening package that includes a 3D mammography and ultrasound as well as a consultation with our senior breast surgeon on the same day. Solis has made a commitment to being your one-stop integrated breast center. For you, everything is made clearer, simpler, and more efficient.
Schedule your screening appointment via WhatsApp message or call (+65) 9139 6472 today.
Find out more at www.breastscreening.sg