Understanding breast cancer

At Icon Cancer Centre Hong Kong we offer the latest in treatment methods and technologies for a range of cancers.

Our experienced team of clinical oncologists are dedicated to delivering exceptional care and supporting you through your diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.

Understanding breast cancer

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of new information people are sharing with you.

Knowing more about your cancer and what to expect before and after treatment can help you prepare. The following information outlines what your cancer is and how it is diagnosed and treated.

We encourage you to speak to your doctor and care team, who are here to support you throughout your time at Icon.

We will always have time to talk to you and answer your questions.

About breast cancer

Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the breast, forming a cancerous tumour.

Breast cancer can be described in stages depending on how early or advanced the cancer is. These include:

  • Stage I – The tumour is 2 cm or less across and has not spread beyond the breast
  • Stage II – The tumour is 5 cm or less across and may have spread to the lymph nodes
  • Stage III – The tumour is larger than 5 cm and has spread to the lymph nodes
  • Stage IV – Tumours in the breast can be any size and may have spread to the lymph nodes and nearby organs


Breast cancer diagnosis involves a number of tests. You may undergo a mammogram, which takes an x-ray of your breast to check for signs of cancer; an ultrasound of the breast to identify tumorous masses and differentiate between benign and malignant tumours; an MRI, which determines the size and extent of the cancer; a blood test, to examine the breast cancer index; or a breast biopsy, which involves removing tissue from the tumour to examine.Separator

Further tests may also be required, often to see if the cancer has spread beyond the breast. These include a bone scan, MRI scan or PET scan.


Treatment for breast cancer depends on the type that you have, and your age, medical history and treatment preferences. Options include surgery (which may involve removal of the tumour or the entire breast), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.

Common questions

It’s natural to want to know more about your cancer when first diagnosed. We’ve included some common questions that patients ask about breast cancer to help you. Your treatment team at Icon can also answer any additional questions that you have at any point in time.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Breasts tissue often feels lumpy, so it can be difficult to know what is normal and what could be a sign of cancer. Knowing your breasts is extremely important, which is why you should perform regular self-examinations.

Symptoms to look out for include changes in the size or shape of the breast, skin dimpling, a lump in the breast, nipple retraction (turning inwards), appearance of a lump in the nipple, thickening of the nipple, bleeding from the nipple and a lump or bulging in the armpit.

What causes breast cancer?

Certain risk factors can play a role in the development of breast cancer. These include:

  • Age – People aged 50 or above are more likely to develop breast cancer
  • Family history – Having a close relative with breast cancer can increase your risk
  • Being overweight
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Periods that start very young or stop later than usual
  • Long-term use of oestrogen (including contraceptive pills)
  • A history of fibroadenoma and/or ductal hyperplasia, especially atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH)

Making an appointment

Find out how to make an appointment at Icon Cancer Centre, or request more information from your nearest centre.
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Care team

Every member of Icon’s team is here to help. Here are some of the team members you may meet and how they will be involved in your treatment.
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Our doctors

Icon brings together a strong and prominent team of clinical oncologists.
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