Today in New Zealand 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The number one cancer amongst women, everyone will be impacted somehow with breast cancer – a colleague, a friend, a family member or you. If it seems more common, it is a true phenomenon.
While researchers don’t know exactly why, it is thought more breast screening, an ageing population, later childbearing, increased obesity as well as increased alcohol intake amongst women may be contributing factors.
Many women think they are at low risk if there are no family members with breast cancer however, 90-95% of women diagnosed have no breast cancer in the family. Despite increased detection the good news is less women are dying from breast cancer. This is a result of better awareness and earlier detection. But we can do more. According to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation 30% of eligible women aged between 45 and 69 aren’t even enrolled in the free breastscreening programme.
Mammograms are extremely useful but can miss cancers too. Any lump in the breast is important and needs to be investigated with a matter of urgency. Women of all ages need to have a good chat to their doctor about breast screening as breast cancers can occur at any age. Keeping fit and slim and consuming less alcohol may reduce your risk. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Make it your mission to have a breast check, enrol in the Breastscreen programme by phoning 0800 270200 or encourage someone else to do so.