Overview on Breast Cancer

Overview on Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the major cause of cancer death in Australian women accounting for 10,000 new cases of breast cancer and 2,600 deaths each year. Early detection is the best method for reducing deaths from breast cancer.

Women whose cancer is diagnosed when it is contained in the breast, have a 90% chance of surviving five years compared with 20% five-year survival when the cancer has spread at diagnosis.

Breast Cancer Fast Facts

- Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women in Australia

- One in 11 women are at risk of developing breast cancer before the age of 75

- About 10 per cent of breast cancers occur in women with a family history

- Although unusual, men can develop breast cancer (approximately 1% of new cases occur in men)

- About 10,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year

- One in 24 female deaths are due to breast cancer

- Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australian women

- While the incidence of the disease is increasing, the survival rate is improving

Breast Cancer Research

What has Research Taught us About Breast Cancer?

Research has given us new knowledge in all areas of breast cancer, from the benefits of screening and early detection, to better diagnoses and treatments and finally hope for prevention. Just a few examples: to date, research has given us a greater understanding of breast cancer cells and how they function. This understanding has enabled researchers to develop better, more targeted treatments.

Research has taught us that breast cancer treatment doesn't always mean major disfigurative surgery. Thanks to new knowledge from research, specialists can now treat many breast cancer cases by removing the lump itself, leaving the breast intact.

Research has shown us that breast screening is an effective way to detect breast cancers early for women aged 50-69 years, giving patients a greater chance of survival. However screening mammography is not suitable for young women and we need more research to improve early detection in young women.

How has Research Improved Survival?

Research showed that early detection of breast cancer through mammography helps to save women's lives. Research also produced new knowledge of the best way to treat breast cancers using chemotherapy and hormones. The combination of early detection and better treatment has led to a steady reduction in the death rate from breast cancer since 1994.

Doctors are now able to better predict how a particular breast cancer will react to treatment and match the most effective treatment to their patient.

Breast Cancer Month

Internationally October is recognised as Breast Cancer Month. It is a time when breast cancer organisations team together to raise awareness and funds for research into the disease.

Throughout the month, activities and information will be available highlighting the importance of research.

Throughout the month, there will be a focus on:

- Progress with research - what we know and what we hope to find out in the next two years
- Priorities in research funding - making the best use of funds
- Research and information for women with breast cancer

The 28th of October is dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research. This day is known as Pink Ribbon Day.