Breast Cancer Facts
If breast cancer is detected by mammogram, the 10 year survival rate is 92%.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer occurs when breast cells change and start growing out of control.
There are different types of breast cancer depending on which kind of breast cell is affected. Some breast cancers grow very slowly and others more quickly.
Survival is dependent on age, on early diagnosis and on the aggressiveness of the cancer cell.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
Anyone can get breast cancer. Breast cancer risk factors include:
– Getting your first period before 12 years of age
– Having your first child after age 35
– Having few or no pregnancies
– Breastfeeding for only a short time or not at all
– Starting menopause after age 55.
Using Hormone Replacement Therapy* may increase your risk of getting breast cancer and especially if it is used for a year or more. Discuss with your doctor the benefits of using HRT versus your individual risk of breast cancer.
(*Hormone Replacement Therapy helps to relieve the symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes and sleep disturbances.)
Lifestyle factors may also increase your chances of getting breast cancer. These include:
Prevention and Treatment
The earlier a breast cancer is found the better a woman’s chances of survival.
Early detection saves breasts and lives.
1. Have regular mammograms
A mammogram is an x-ray of a breast to look for cancers when they are very small and unable to be felt as a lump.
A screening mammogram screens or checks the breasts of well women for any signs of change or cancer.
Sometimes a mammogram includes an ultrasound examination which increases the accuracy of the result.
A diagnostic mammogram is done when a woman has a lump or has noticed a change in her breast and is used to help a doctor diagnose what is wrong.
The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation recommends a screening mammogram for women as follows:
2. Enrol in the National Screening Programme
BreastScreen Aotearoa provides free screening mammograms to women aged between 45 and 69 every two years. To enrol in this programme phone 0800 270 200.
3. Know your Breasts
Do regular breast checks, know what is normal for you – how your breasts usually look and feel. Your breasts do not always stay the same – pregnancy, weight changes and age can all alter their shape and size. Some women find that their breasts feel different around the time of their period – they may feel lumpy or tender before their period but this disappears after the period ends.
Know what changes to look and feel for especially:
4. If you notice any change in your breasts see your doctor
See a doctor who will examine your breasts and check your general health. In addition to having a mammogram your doctor may suggest an ultrasound.
5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
For more information on Breast Health visit nzbcf.org.nz
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