Make some screen time

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Health - Dr Tom Milden­hall

THIS month was Breast Can­cer Aware­ness month, and as many of you will know, it is the most com­mon cause of can­cer in women age 40 to 64.

It is es­ti­mated that ap­prox­i­mately 1 in 8 women will de­velop breast can­cer over their life­time.

For­tu­nately, it can usu­ally be treated ef­fec­tively when it is small and that is why screen­ing with mam­mo­grams is so im­por­tant.

Mam­mo­grams can de­tect be­tween 70 per cent and 90 per cent of breast can­cers and is the only proven method of early de­tec­tion. A mam­mo­gram can pick up a breast can­cer when it is ex­tremely small and some­times when it is so small that it is im­pos­si­ble to even feel by you or your doc­tor.

Screen­ing mam­mo­grams are for women who have no symp­toms and are also ap­pro­pri­ate for women who have breast im­plants. They should be done ev­ery two years un­less ad­vised oth­er­wise by your doc­tor.

They are free through Breastscreen WA and are rec­om­mended for women aged 50 to 74. How­ever, if there is a fam­ily his­tory of breast can­cer you may need to start screen­ing at a younger age.

There are com­pa­nies in Perth that also of­fer breast mam­mo­grams and ul­tra­sound, and th­ese are gener- ally for women who are younger than age 40 or who have symp­toms.

There are a few myths sur­round­ing breast can­cer and one of the big­gest is that only women who have a fam­ily his­tory of breast can­cer are at risk.

This is false and in­ter­est­ingly 9 out of 10 women with breast can­cer have no fam­ily his­tory.

If you have any symp­toms, re­gard­less of age, you should see a GP.

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