To coincide with Women's Health Week which runs from September 5 - 9, we have compiled some information about women and cancer.
Women and cancer
Women have a one in three chance of being diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85, compared with a one in two chance for men. Generally, the chance of developing cancer (risk) increases with age for both men and women.
Breast cancer and gynaecological cancers (cancers affecting the female reproductive organs) are not the only types of cancers that affect women. After breast cancer, the most common type of cancers that affect women living in WA are bowel cancer, melanoma, and lung cancer. To find out more about these cancers, select the links below:
Reducing your risk
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce your chances of developing cancer. These include:
Advancements in treatment and prevention
Every day in Australia around 50 women are diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancer, with cervical cancer accounting for 1.5% of all cancers diagnosed in women.
The world’s first cancer vaccine, developed in Queensland, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. The first Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was administered in Australia on August 29, 2006 and has since managed to protect against 70 per cent of all cervical cancers in women. HPV vaccine co-creator and Translational Research Institute chief executive officer Professor Frazer from the Diamantina Institute at Brisbane said almost a decade later with more than 187 million doses of the vaccine administered across 130 countries, the number of new cases of cervical cancer in women has halved. Professor Frazer said the vaccine could eliminate HPV-associated cancers within 40 years.
There have also been many developments in early detection methods which aim to find cancer early and improve the chance of successful treatment such as:
• Pap smear screening for cervical cancer - Pap smears detect pre-cancerous cells and allow for early, successful intervention. There has been a considerable drop in the cases of and deaths from cervical cancer due to this successful program. While participation is lower in older women and aboriginal women, the participation rate remains above 65% for most eligible women. Read more here.
• Mammographic screening for breast cancer - A mammogram can detect up to 90% of breast cancers and is the only proven means of detecting breast cancer at an early stage. It is possible for them to detect cancer as small as a grain of rice, before it is possible to be felt. BreastScreen WA provides FREE screening mammograms to Western Australian women 40 years or over with no breast symptoms every two years. Find out more here.
• Faecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT) for bowel cancer - Bowel cancer is a common cancer among men and women. Worldwide studies (Europe, UK and USA) show strong evidence that FOBT screening will reduce deaths from bowel cancer. Read more about the test here.
What you can do to help
Thanks to you, our generous supporters, we’ve been able to fund some ground breaking research into women’s cancers, but there’s more work to be done before we live in a world where cancer is no longer feared.
This October, you can help us raise money to achieve our goal by getting your favourite girlfriends together to host your own Girls’ Night In.
You and your friends will be joining thousands of women all over Australia, getting together to have a great time, and playing a crucial part in helping us beat women’s cancers. Find out more here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And keep an eye out for us in the Perth CBD during our Pink Ribbon Day street appeal on October 21. Find out more about getting involved with Pink Ribbon Day here.