Breast cancer

Most commonly originates in the milk glands of the breasts.

  • Is the most common diagnosed cancer in women (28%)
  • Statistics are 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Symptoms include:
    • Nipple discharge
    • Lump in the breast
    • Changes to the skin on the breast
    • Nipple retraction or inversion
    • Constant pain or tenderness

Early diagnosis is the key to improving outcomes and survival rates. Breastscreen provides a free mammogram to women over the age of 40 as a government incentive to encourage women to be checked regularly.

The goal of the service is to provide a preventative means of assessment in women with no symptoms therefore possibly detecting early unpresented breast cancer.

Obviously the smaller the breast cancer the easier it is to treat and survival rate increases.

A woman with breast symptoms is not eligible for the free Breastscreen service but should consult her GP for a Triple Assessment.

Triple Assessment includes

  • Medical history and clinical examination of the breast
  • Imaging including Ultrasound, mammogram +/- MRI
  • Non excisional biopsy to allow histopathological testing of breast specimen

A thorough Triple Assessment provides 99% accuracy and for it to be negative all 3 components must be benign.

Determining the value of her breasts to a woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer is an important factor in understanding her choices for treatment, especially with regard to surgery.

For some women it is an easy choice – remove the breast. The thought of having a cancerous breast is enough to want it removed.

However for others, preservation of the breast is a major priority. Some will be eligible for breast sparing procedures including surgery +/- medical treatment (chemotherapy, radiation) and others who may require full removal may elect for reconstruction.

Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately or done later and can include either implant or your own tissue (autologous). Breast reconstruction should be discussed with all medical health professionals involved in one’s care as the need for ongoing medical treatment such as radiation will impact on the recommended timing of such surgery.

Implant reconstruction can be a good option for women who are able to have skin sparing surgery and don’t wish to use their own tissue, haven’t had children yet and /or not ready to have long, costly autologous surgery.

Autologous reconstruction is the preferred choice due to the more natural and longer lasting result it delivers. Refer to Verve booklet for more info