29 March 2008: What Do We Know about Breast Cancer in Hong Kong?

Dr Polly Cheung established the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation (HKBCF) and set up the first breast cancer registry in Hong Kong in response to the Hong Kong Government’s health care policy (December 2004) stating that routine mammography screening for the general female population was not recommended.

Dr Cheung reviewed local breast cancer trends, treatments and the history of screening programs in Hong Kong. She stressed the importance of establishing the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Registry (HKBCR), how it will enable extensive exploration into the nature of breast cancer in Hong Kong and aid in plans for more effective breast cancer control not only for HKBCF, but also other for medical professionals, policy makers and the wider public.

Breast cancer has become an increasing health burden in Hong Kong as it accounts for 22% of all cancers diagnosed in women and is showing the fastest annual increase among all cancers in women. Dr. Cheung gave detailed accounts of patient characteristics, tumour characteristics, diagnostic methods and types of treatment. She also gave a brief history of breast cancer screening programs in Hong Kong, pointing out that in 1991 Kwong Wah Hospital was the first to have a screening program.

Dr. Cheung reiterated the importance of early detection. She compared the accuracy of the two common early detection methods of detecting palpable versus non-palpable tumours. While mammograms have higher accuracy of detecting non-palpable tumours, ultrasound has higher accuracy of detecting palpable tumours.

Through HKBCF education initiatives, Dr Cheung encourages early detection but there is more to be done to prevent breast cancer. There is an urgent need for more information. The Hong Kong Breast Cancer Registry (HKBCR) aims to collect and analyze this vital breast cancer data in a local context. The data collection process of the HKBCR commences in 2008 and its target is to collect 25% of new cases in its first year of launch.