Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Australian women with a 1 in 9 lifetime risk. Over 14,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.
The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. 75% of breast cancer cases occur in women aged over 50.The 5 year survival rate for women with breast cancer is 88%. It is important to have 2 yearly mammograms when aged over 40 and these are provided free by Breastscreen to asymptomatic women. It is also important to regularly examine breasts after each period and to report any persisting changes to your GP. Often benign conditions such as cysts are detected so not every lump means cancer.
Less known is that bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related death after lung cancer with 80 Australians dying each week from this condition. About 80 Australians are diagnosed each week with bowel cancer with over 14,000 being diagnosed annually. One in 18 men and 1 in 26 women are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Australia which is one of the highest rates in the World.
Bowel cancer develops from tiny polyps in the bowel. The risk increases with age over 50, in those with a family history, those with a past history of adenoma polyps and those with inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis.
Eating a healthy high fibre diet and exercising regularly reduces bowel cancer by 66% to 75%.Bowel cancer can be treated successfully if detected early but unfortunately only 40% of cases are detected early in Australia. Symptoms such as frank bleeding, change in bowel habit, anemia and obstruction occur late.
Screening for microscopic bleeding is recommended in those aged over 50 and colonoscopy recommended from 40, or 5 years earlier than the youngest relative with bowel cancer, or in those aged over 40 with rectal bleeding. We have an excellent referral network of Specialists to send you to for endoscopy.
Cervical cancer has decreased by over 33% since organized pap smears began in 1991 in Australia at 2 yearly intervals. It appears the introduction of the cervical cancer vaccine will significantly lower this even more. Our Practice is proud that we achieve a high percentage of pap smears in eligible women. We have a computerized recall system to remind you when your next check is due.
Ovarian cancer is the 9th most common cancer affecting women in Australia with 1200 cases annually and 1 in 77 women being affected and 810 deaths per year. The risk increases with age over 50, family history, changes in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, early onset of periods and late cessation, childlessness, infertility and never taking the combined oral contraceptive. It often presents late and there is no proven prevention.
It is important to have regular pap smears and bimanual examinations of the pelvis and to report any changes such as pelvic pain, bloating, abnormal bleeding and lethargy. Pelvic ultrasound is used for diagnosis and we have resources of experienced Specialist Medical Ultrasonographers who specialize in this field.
However, while 1 in 4 women are concerned that they will die from breast cancer, and only 1 in 25 do globally with 1 in 38 in Australia, 1 in 3 will die from heart disease.
We do much preventive health care to reduce risks and regularly monitor cholesterol levels from 45 and younger in high risk groups.