Early detection of breast cancer is saving local lives

THE spotlight has been shone on breast cancer, the most common cancer affecting women in Australia, during October.

Thankfully, there have been significant advances in early detection and treatment of the disease, leading to improved outcomes for women.

Cancer screening programs, such as BreastScreen Queensland, increase the likelihood of detecting cancer at the earliest stage (stage one), which means a five-year survival rate of close to 100 per cent.

A recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study demonstrated the benefits of breast screening. It found more than half of breast cancers detected by BreastScreen were small, which meant they tended to be associated with more treatment options and improved survival rates.

Trish, a 53-year-old Sunshine Coast local, was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year following a routine mammogram. She had surgery to remove the cancerous lump and is now halfway through radiation treatment. She said it was early detection that could have saved her life.

“During surgery it was discovered that the cancer had also spread into my lymph nodes. If I had let it go, it could have travelled even further around my body,” Trish said.

“Because the cancer was caught in the early stages the nurses said I was lucky. I will get through all of this and live a long and healthy life but I know other people aren’t as lucky.

“Go and get checked. Breast screening is really quick – you’re in and you’re out. Yes, it can be uncomfortable but the earlier something is detected, the better the result, and all of the healthcare staff were really supportive, friendly and caring, and they make it a lot easier,” Trish said.

BreastScreen Queensland has services in Caboolture, Caloundra, Gympie, Maroochydore, Nambour and Noosaville with early, late and Saturday appointments available.

The BreastScreen mobile van will be outside the Beerwah Community Hall from November 11-December 10.

BreastScreen is free and available to women aged 40 years and over who have no breast symptoms.

For more information or to make an appointment with BreastScreen Queensland visit www.breastscreen.qld.gov.au or call 13 20 50.