About Women's Cancers

1 in 8 Australian women will develop breast cancer and 1 in 38 women will die from the disease before the age of 85.

Signs and Symptoms
If any of these signs or symptoms are detected, a doctor should be seen as soon as possible:
  • A lump in the breast or under the arm area
  • An inverted nipple
  • Crusting or reddening of the nipple, or patchy areas on the nipple
  • Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
  • Changes to the shape and size of the breast
  • Changes to the skin of the breast
  • Changes in skin temperature of the breast

Experts agree that early detection is the key to cancer survival. Use the following guidelines to develop a screening schedule that is right for you:

  • Mammography (once every two years recommended for women ages 50 to 69)
  • Clinical examination (once every two years recommended for women over 40)
  • Self-examination is another important aspect of early detection.

Family history can play a role in whether an individual will develop breast cancer. If any immediate family members have been diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause, be sure to alert your physician. He/she may adjust your screening schedule accordingly.

Risk Factors
No one thing causes breast cancer, but there are a few common factors that seem to increase risk of developing it:

  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Early menstruation
  • Late menopause
  • Having taken hormone replacement therapy for more than five years
  • Never having given birth
  • Giving birth for the first time over the age of 30
  • Dense breast tissue
  • An increased number of non-cancerous cells in the breast
  • Radiation treatment to the chest area before age 30
  • Being over the age of 50
  • Obesity, alcohol consumption and the use of birth control pills may also slightly increase risk.

Breast cancer treatment and care today is so customized that a specialized treatment plan is tailored to the needs of the individual patient. Breast cancer treatment may include:

  • A lumpectomy removes the tumour while conserving most of the breast.
  • A mastectomy removes the entire breast and sometimes the lymph nodes.
  • Radiation is used to treat many stages of breast cancer and frequently used after a lumpectomy.
  • Biological therapy helps the body's immune system fight cancer.
  • Herceptin is used to treat human epidermal growth factor positive (HER2) tumours.

These facts are staggering and bring much sadness to the lives that have been affected by these diseases. A future free of women's cancers starts with your commitment to walk, fundraise, and raise awareness today. Pledge to do something meaningful and sign up for The Weekend.