Breast Health and BreastScreen Victoria


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A presentation looking at breast health and BreastScreen Victoria. The presentation covers breast cancer, risks of breast cancer, breast awareness and the BreastScreen Victoria pathway.

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  • What we know
  • Why recruitment focuses on the 50-69 age group:Increasing age is one of the strongest risk factors for developing breast cancer. About three out of four breast cancer cases occur in women aged 50 years and older.
  • Being a woman Breast cancer is more common in women and therefore this becomes a risk factor. We say that being female is a risk factor for breast cancer. Age We know that breast cancer is more common in people aged over 50, such that increasing age is a risk factor for breast cancer. Family History Some cancers have a genetic link. This means that it is possible to inherit a faulty gene that may cause cancer from a family member. The risk of breast cancer is higher if your first degree relative was diagnosed under the age of 50 or if more than one relative has breast cancer. But, only 5% of all breast cancers are actually caused through inheriting a faulty gene. Previous breast cancer Having had a previous breast cancer can increase your risk of getting breast cancer again. Certain breast diseases Some breast diseases such as Atypical Ductal Carcinoma or Lobular Carcinoma in Situ can also increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Medium RiskHRT – Increases levels of oestrogen, high levels of oestrogen are a risk factor. The risk increase is temporary, with risk returning to that of a never-user within five years.Contraceptive pill – The use of oral contraceptives (OCs) increases the risk of breast cancer in current and recent users, but there is no significant excess risk ten or more years after stopping use.Age at menarche/menopause – Earlier start of periods the higher the risk. Later the menopause the higher the risk. Weight – people who are over weight have a higher risk of breast cancer, this is associated with oestrogen as fat cells create oestrogen.Diet – Increase risk with high fat diets, some countries have a lower incidence of breast cancer, diet is considered to be a large factor for this. Alcohol – Again this is link to hormones in alcoholic drinksNo evidenceRed meat does increase the risk for bowel cancer but there is no evidence to support it increasing the risk for breast cancer.There have been studies conducted linking smoking to breast cancer but there is yet to be conclusive evidence that links the two.These risk factors are subject to change with further research.
  • Recruitment strategies are targeted at women aged 50-674 These women receive a letter of invitation from electoral rollWomen aged 40-49 years and over 74 are eligible. – but they won’t be sent an invitation or reminder. Two years is the screening interval that was set based on the results of the original studies conducted that looked at the effectiveness of breast cancer screening.The program complements Breast Awareness and educating women about breast awareness is a key feature of the program
  • You can find out your nearest clinic by entering your postcode into our website at
  • A video of a woman having a mammogram can be viewed on our website at pictures show exactly what happens. There are 2 views taken of each breast, the machine tilts to obtain the oblique view (top right)
  • Current research shows that the benefits of having regular screening mammograms outweigh any possible risks from radiation.This means that sometimes a woman’s screening mammogram may look abnormal, and she might be recalled for further tests. Most women who are called back for further tests do not have breast cancer. It also means that for a small number of women the screening mammogram might not find a breast cancer that is present. It is not possible to be sure which breast cancers found by screening will develop into a life-threatening cancer. Therefore, some women receive treatment that might not have been necessary in an effort to reduce their risk of a life-threatening cancer in the future.
  • Creating anxietyFor some women anxiety associated with the test may be greater than the perceived benefit. Particularly for 7% recalled for further investigationJust because there are changes doesn’t mean there is cancer. (9 out of 10 changes are not cancer).For some women the time between being recalled and a final result will cause a lot of anxiety. Over TreatmentSome women may be diagnosed with breast cancer that would not develop into a life-threatening cancer. Unfortunately it is not always possible to differentiate between a breast cancer that would become life threatening and one that would remain dormant for the duration of the woman's life. Therefore, some women receive treatment that might not have been necessary in an effort to reduce their risk of a life-threatening cancer in the future.Exposure to radiation dose dose of radiation used in screening mammography is very low. So small the benefits of screening are deemed to far outweigh any radiation risk.the Breast tissue is easy to penetrate and a small dose is sufficient to produce an adequate image
  • Breast Health and BreastScreen Victoria

    1. 1. Breast Health and BreastScreen Victoria This presentation looks at breast health and breast screening for the early detection of breast cancer September 2014
    2. 2. Breast cancer • 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime • Early detection increases a woman’s chance of survival • 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are aged 50+
    3. 3. CANCER IN VICTORIA: Statistics and trends 2010 Victorian Cancer Registry, Cancer Council Victoria 2011, pg 37
    4. 4. New cases and deaths in 2011 for cancers in Victorian women 3499 3748 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 Victorian Cancer Registry 2012 1713 956 336 698 765 236 0 Breast Bowel Lung Ovary New cases/deaths in 2011 Type of Cancer New cases Deaths 616
    5. 5. What things have you been told may cause breast cancer?
    6. 6. Known Risk Factors • Being a woman • Increasing age • Family history • Previous breast cancer
    7. 7. Risk Factors for Breast Cancer Risk factors • Hormones • Nulliparity • Older age at first pregnancy • Older age at menopause • Weight • Alcohol No evidence • An injury to the breast • Deodorant • Aluminium saucepans • Mobile phones, microwaves • Underwire Bras
    8. 8. Reducing your risk • Regular exercise • Follow recommended alcohol consumption • Maintain healthy body weight
    9. 9. Breast anatomy
    10. 10. Normal breast changes What is normal? Changes to the breasts can occur with: • puberty • menstrual cycle • pregnancy and breastfeeding • weight loss and gain • menopause.
    11. 11. Breast awareness Breast awareness is for all women of all ages How? • Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your own breasts • There is no right or wrong way to do it • See your doctor without delay if you find any changes that are not normal for you
    12. 12. Breast cancer key facts • cancer is abnormal cell growth and uncontrolled spread • the most common invasive cancer among Australian women • cannot be prevented • can also occur in men but is rare • usually grows slowly • begins in the ducts or lobules of the breast
    13. 13. Recommendations for breast screening • Target 50-74 year olds • Every 2 years • Complements Breast Awareness • Without symptoms of breast cancer (Women with symptoms go to GP)
    14. 14. BreastScreen program Why women aged 50 to 74? • Evidence shows screening this age group saves the most lives • increasing age is one of the strongest risk factors • mammograms are the most effective screening method for finding early breast cancer in this age group • women in 40s and over 74 are still eligible for free screening with BreastScreen Victoria
    15. 15. What happens at BreastScreen Victoria? • female radiographers • positioning of breasts between two flat plates • compression may cause some discomfort, but needed to ensure quality of the mammogram and minimal radiation exposure • can ask for procedure to stop at any time
    16. 16. What happens after my screening appointment? • mammograms read by two specialists • results sent, within two-four weeks (woman and GP) • BreastScreen will be in contact if further tests needed • most women called back are not found to have cancer • reminder sent for next screening mammogram
    17. 17. Results • The vast majority of women will receive a ‘normal’ result • A small percentage of women are called back for further tests (approx. 5%) • Being called back does not mean you have breast cancer
    18. 18. Benefits of BreastScreen • Regular screening prevents deaths from breast cancer • Breast screens can detect majority of cancers early – even before they can be felt or noticed • If breast cancer is found early, it is more likely to be small, and successfully treated • The earlier breast cancer is found, the better your chance of surviving it
    19. 19. Limitations of BreastScreen • Anxiety • Over – treatment: • Some women may be diagnosed with breast cancer that would not develop into a life-threatening cancer, therefore, some women may receive treatment that might not have been necessary. • Exposure to radiation • Modern mammography machines use the smallest amount of radiation possible while still getting a high quality X-ray picture. The radiation from screening (which involves two X-rays of each breast) is about the same as 18 weeks of exposure to natural radiation in the environment.
    20. 20. What can I do… • Finding breast cancer early gives you the best chance of successful treatment and recovery • Be breast aware and see your doctor without delay if you notice any unusual changes • Make an appointment with BreastScreen Victoria if you are aged 50-74 • Spread the message about breast awareness and screening mammograms
    21. 21. For more information or to make an appointment visit Or call 13 20 50