This October is an opportunity for Australians to focus on breast cancer and its impact on those affected.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women. According to the Department of Human Services, over 17,000 women are likely to be diagnosed with this cancer in 2017.
Detecting breast cancer
Early detection of breast cancer can saves lives.
Detecting any abnormalities early on ensures that women have all treatment options available to them. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of surviving it.
In Australia, free routine mammographic screening is available through BreastScreen Australia services in each state for women aged 50 to 74.
Women aged 40 to 49 can also have mammography, but breast screening is less effective because the density (thickness) of breast tissue makes it more difficult to see a cancer in the x-ray and fewer women are diagnosed in this age group.
This free service is not offered to women under the age of 40. This is because research suggests that younger women do not benefit from routine mammographic screening because they have denser breast tissue than older women. It is also not offered to men due to their lack of breast tissue.
All women are encouraged to be ‘breast aware’ – that is, familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts.
If you find a suspicious breast change, make a booking with us immediately. Our friendly team of GPs can refer you to imaging tests to confirm the presence of the change.
If the imaging results appear suspicious, you will be referred for a biopsy for confirmation and diagnosis.
Breast cancer in Australia: the facts
- One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
- On average, eight women die from breast cancer every day.
- There are more than 65,000 people currently living with breast cancer in Australia.
- This year, 17,586 women (an average of 48 every day) are projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, although mortality is predicted to continuously decline.
- Women diagnosed with breast cancer have a 90% chance of surviving five years after diagnosis.
- Increasing age is one of the strongest risk factors for developing breast cancer.
- More than two in three cases of breast cancer occur in women aged between 40 and 69 years.
- Breast cancer spreading to other organs (metastasis) is the main cause of death from breast cancer. The survival rate of women that have metastatic breast cancer at first diagnosis is alarmingly low, with only one in four women still alive five years after diagnosis.
- Improvements in survival are attributed to earlier detection of breast cancer through regular mammograms and improved treatment outcomes for breast cancer.
- Although rare, breast cancer can also affect men, accounting for about 1% of cases.
Donate now to help save lives
Research is the only way to end breast cancer.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation, which does not receive government funding, is calling on all Australians for a donation.
It’s one way you can help the Foundation take a step closer to achieving its goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
Remember, we are here to help. If you have any questions about breast cancer, please ask one of our GPs.
Source: National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.