As most people know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which provides a great opportunity to talk more this serious health issue.
As the most common cause of cancer in women age 40 to 64, it is estimated that approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Fortunately, this form of cancer can usually be treated quite effectively whilst small, making screening via mammogram vitally important for early detection.
The difference that early detection can make
A mammogram can detect between 70 and 90% of breast cancers and is currently the only proven method for early detection. Mammograms can detect breast cancers when it they are extremely small, sometimes when too small to even be felt by you or your doctor.
Who needs screening?
Screening mammograms are suitable for women with no symptoms and are also appropriate for women with breast implants. They should be performed every two years unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
Mammograms are provided for free through Breastscreen WA and are highly recommended for women aged 50 to 74 (given 75% of breast cancers affecting women over the age of 50).
If there is a history of breast cancer within your family, you may need to begin screening earlier than 50. Some services in Perth offer breast mammograms and ultrasound screening, which are generally well suited to women under the age of 40, or anyone who has experienced symptoms.
No family history required
One of the greatest myths surrounding breast cancer is that only women who have a family history of breast cancer are at risk. Interestingly 9 out of 10 women with breast cancer have no family history, so if you have any symptoms – regardless of your age – follow up with your GP.
GPs on Bayview have both male and female GPs specialising in women’s health.
This article was written by Dr Alison Philpott