Australian women urged to have checks as breast cancer levels seen rising

New South Wales women are being urged to have regular breast examinations with the number of breast cancer diagnoses predicted to rise in the next two years.

Cancer Institute NSW predicts a 14 per cent increase in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 to 6412 cases, up from 5621 diagnosed in 2015.

Strathfield Private Hospital specialist breast surgeon Dr Joel Symonds said there was still some misinformation and myths about breast cancer.

“The overwhelming majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer had no immediate history of the disease in their family, despite the fact many people think it is a genetic condition,” Dr Symonds said.

“About 90% of breast cancers that are diagnosed in women have no family history.

“In addition, women over the age 74 have traditionally believed they no longer required mammograms because they no longer received reminder letters from BreastScreen.

“The risk of breast cancer steadily increases as women grow older.  There’s no reason why a healthy woman over 74, who is diagnosed with breast cancer cannot be treated and go on to enjoy life for many more years.”

Dr Symonds said new techniques and technologies were continually being developed for breast cancer detection and treatment.

“At Strathfield Private Hospital, for instance, women can have a contrast-enhanced mammogram which shows new or unusual blood flow patterns that develop when cancers grow,” he said.

“This specialist test can assist in planning surgical management in women with dense breasts.”

Many women now opted for a lumpectomy, when appropriate, to avoid mastectomy and possible implant reconstruction.  Volume replacement techniques and breast reduction techniques were advanced surgical procedures to increase rates of lumpectomy.

“Volume replacement involves moving tissue adjacent to the breast into the area where the cancer was removed and avoid mastectomy with implant reconstruction. This reduces the risk of women suffering other health issues as a result of implants.”

Dr Symonds said the National Breast Cancer Foundation reduced the proportion of women diagnosed with breast cancer from one in eight to one in seven.

“Early detection provides the best chance of survival,” he said.

“If you notice something that is new or different, go to your GP. Don’t doubt yourself or think it’s not important.”

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