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11 things I didn’t know about breast cancer

breast cancer facts and statisticsDid you know that nine out of every 10 women who get breast cancer DON’T have a family history of the disease? I didn’t.

In fact, since reading up on breast cancer this month, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month  there have been quite a few things I’ve learned about this terrible disease.

Here are just a few of them.

11 things I didn’t know about breast cancer

  1. Nine out of ten women who get breast cancer don’t have a family history of this disease.
  2. On average, seven women die from breast cancer every day in Australia. Finding breast cancer early increases the chance of surviving the disease.
  3. In 2009, the risk of developing breast cancer before the age of 85 in women was 1 in 8.1.
  4. For 2008, Australia’s mortality rate for breast cancer in women, was estimated to be lower than the rates for Southern Africa, New Zealand, Western Africa, Northern Europe, Northern Africa, Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe.
  5. Relative survival rates after diagnosis of breast cancer in women have increased in recent years. Between the periods 1982–1987 and 2006–2010, five-year relative survival increased from 72 per cent to 89.4 per cent in Australian women.
  6. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Australia.
  7. Although rare, breast cancer can also affect men. 113 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. This is approximately 1% of all breast cancer cases.
  8. Some treatments for breast cancer can affect a woman’s fertility. Once treatment for breast cancer has finished there’s no reliable test to find out if a woman can still become pregnant.
  9. If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer when she’s pregnant her treatment options are more limited. It is possible to have breast surgery (but there’s a slight risk of miscarriage, which reduces after the first trimester). Radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and Herceptin are not recommended. Chemotherapy isn’t recommended in the first trimester but may be given in the second and third trimesters when the risk to the baby is reduced.
  10. Treatments for breast cancer can affect the age of menopause.
  11. Age is the biggest risk factor in developing the disease. More than 75 per cent of breast cancers occur in women 50 years and over. But this doesn’t mean that young women shouldn’t be aware of the symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis!

– Information from Cancer Australia and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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