After non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women of all ages. But thanks to advances in early detection, screening and prevention, more than 90 per cent of women with breast cancer are still alive 5 years after diagnosis.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the breast. There are a number of different types of breast cancers, most of which begin in the breast ducts. Both women and men can develop breast cancer, although breast cancer is rare in men.
Types of breast cancer
There are several different types of breast cancer:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common type, and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) are non-invasive breast cancers that are confined to the ducts or lobules of the breast.
- Invasive ductal or lobular carcinoma is an invasive breast cancer that starts in the ducts or lobules of the breast and can spread into the breast tissue. Invasive breast cancer may be confined to the breast and lymph nodes in the armpit (early breast cancer) or may have spread outside the breast to other parts of the body (secondary or metastatic breast cancer).
- Paget's disease of the nipple is a rare form of breast cancer that affects the nipple and the area around the nipple (the areola) and is commonly associated with an invasive cancer elsewhere in the breast.
- Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare form of invasive breast cancer that affects the lymphatic vessels in the skin of the breast, causing the breast to become red and inflamed.
How common is it?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women of all ages. WA cancer stastics from show in 2014, there were 1,737 new cases and sadly 249 women died. Lifetime risk for breast cancer in women is one in 10 by age 75.
In WA males in 2014, there were 14 new cases and less than 5 deaths. Lifetime risk for breast cancer for men is one in 1,113 by age 75.
More than 70 per cent of all breast cancers occur in women aged 50 years and over.
Reduce your risk
There are a number of lifestyle risk factors that increase the risk of breast cancer. These include being overweight or obese, not doing enough physical activity, poor diet and drinking alcohol.
The things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer are:
- Be screened for breast cancer through BreastScreen WA
- Be breast aware and check your breasts
- Get at least 30 to 60 minutes or more of moderate to intensity physical activity on most days of the week
- Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
- Avoid alcohol - if you choose to drink, limit your alcohol intake
How do I screen for breast cancer?
Screening mammograms (breast x-rays) look for early signs of breast cancer in women without symptoms. Mammograms may find a breast cancer that is too small to feel. Screening mammograms are currently the best method available for early detection of breast cancer in women aged 50-74 years, and it's suggested during these ages that you get a mammogram every two years.
- If you have any questions about breast cancer, cancer in general, or our research, support and education programs, call our cancer nurses on 13 11 20
- To find out more about the four breast cancer research projects we're funding this year, visit our research page
- To host a Girls' Night In fundraiser to help us continue to support WA women affected by cancer, visit www.girlsnightin.com.au
- To order a free 5 signs of breast cancer guide to hang in your bathroom, visit our 5 signs guide page and enter you details
- To make a donation in support of West Aussies affected by breast cancer, visit our make a donation page