Thursday, 27 October 2011


“The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart.” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

October has been declared internationally Breast Cancer Month. Pink Ribbon Day in Australia was on October 24, 2011. Every “pink ribbon” sold helps the National Breast Cancer Foundation fund research into the prevention and cure of breast cancer. This national Breast Cancer day is now in its 19th year and every year more money has been raised, as well as having the highly desirable effect of increasing community awareness of this common and devastating disease.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is the leading community-funded national organisation in Australia, supporting and promoting research for the prevention and cure of breast cancer.  Since its establishment in 1994, over $67 million has been awarded to 256 research projects across Australia to improve the health and well-being of breast cancer victims. Research programs funded by the NBCF cover every aspect of breast cancer, from increasing understanding of genetics to improving ways to support women and their families.

Most of us know someone who has had breast cancer. Some of us may know a woman who has died prematurely from the disease. Some of the readers of this blog may have been diagnosed with the disease and have survived. All women, in theory, are at risk, but at the present time the risk is highest in Western-type, industrialised countries like Australia, USA, Canada, UK and other European countries. Women who have had a long reproductive life are at greater risk, as are women with a history of breast cancer in their family, and childless women, or mothers who have had children late in life. Diet plays a role, with high saturated fat diets with few fresh fruits and vegetables, low in fibre, placing women at higher risk. An Australian woman’s chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime is on average about 1 in 12.

Most women that present with the cancer feel a lump in their breast. For this reason, women are advised to start doing breast self-examination (BSE) early. By examining her breasts, a woman gets to know how her breasts look and feel. Therefore, she may increase her likelihood of early detection of breast cancer, if it develops. Women are generally advised to do breast self-checks from 20 years of age, once a month. Women who are breast-aware notice suspicious changes to their breasts earlier. It is important to realise that not all breast lumps are cancerous (in fact most are not!) and that breast cancer can also present with other symptoms and not a lump. Older women are advised to have regular mammograms (breast X-ray examinations) in order to catch very small cancers early on.

Fortunately, breast cancer nowadays is a disease with a good prognosis. The earlier the cancer is detected, the greater the chance of long-term survival and cure. A great number of treatments are available and not all breast cancer patients need to have a mastectomy. Prognosis and survival rate varies greatly depending on cancer type, staging and treatment, with the 5-year relative survival rate varying from 98% to 23%, with an overall survival rate of 85%.

If you suspect that there is something abnormal in your breasts, do not delay but go and see your doctor immediately. It is better to err on the side of safety. More information is available online from a number of reputable websites, as for example:

MBF Insurance, Australia:

Cancer Council of Australia:

Surveillance and Epidemiology and End Results USA Govt Site

National Cancer Institute USA

cancer |ˈkansər| noun
The disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body: He's got cancer | Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer.
• A malignant growth or tumour resulting from such a division of cells: Most skin cancers are curable.
• A practice or phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate: Racism is a cancer sweeping across Europe.
cancerous |ˈkansərəs| adjective
ORIGIN: Old English, from Latin, ‘crab or creeping ulcer,’ translating Greek karkinos, said to have been applied to such tumours because the swollen veins around them resembled the limbs of a crab. canker was the usual form until the 17th century.


  1. good cause... i love this post. a good reminder for everyone..


  2. yes indeed... and always interesting to learn a bit more about it

  3. This is an excellent blog that touches a topic that is ever-relevant not only to women, but to the men in their lives who need to support and love them through the ordeal of breast cancer. It touches me as I have had a breast lump removed, which fortunately was totally benign...

  4. Thank you for this important post Nic..........

  5. Thanks for this nice post addressing breast cancer. We must all fight it as hard as we possibly can.
    Happy Pink Sat.

  6. Wonderful feature honoring this worthy cause.