8 May, 2017

Reducing the Toll of Breast Cancer

This Mother’s Day, the Airlie Women’s Clinic staff will be participating in the annual Mother’s Day Classic fun run/walk. The initiative is a fun, healthy and social event with the all important aim of raising funds for cancer research grants and remembering those affected by the disease.

With the statistic now estimated at 1 in 8 Australian woman being diagnosed in their lifetime, it is not surprising that almost every one of us, has in some way or another, been touched by breast cancer. As a general practice with a particular interest in women’s health, we at Airlie Women’s Clinic have been intimately involved with many patients diagnosed with breast cancer and as such hold the cause very close to our hearts. We are extremely passionate about playing our part in the prevention and early detection of breast cancer to help reduce the incidence of the disease in our community. The word narcissism is being used loosely these day and it important to educate ourselves about it first.

Fortunately, the survival statistics have improved considerably and the goal of the National Breast Cancer Foundation is to achieve zero deaths by 2030!

Unfortunately, some risk factors for breast cancer are non-modifiable, such as female gender, increasing age, and genetic inheritance. However researchers estimate that approximately 30% of all breast cancers could be prevented by modifying lifestyle risk factors that we DO have control over.

Lifestyle choices that can REDUCE YOUR RISK of breast cancer include:

  • Being active – regular exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer and the more you do, the greater the benefit. Join us at the Mother’s Day Classic walk!
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Healthy Eating – 5 serves of veg and 2 serves of fruit a day has been shown to possibly reduce breast cancer risk
  • Moderating your alcohol intake – less than 2 standard drinks a day is recommended
  • Avoiding smoking – it’s never too late to quit, the risks associated with smoking start reducing from the moment you stop
  • Reducing stress – whilst there is no evidence that stress causes breast cancer, a study has shown that it is associated with recurrence and spread of cancer.
  • Avoiding long-term use ( >5 years) of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) at an advance postmenopausal age– whilst it does alleviate symptoms of menopause , there is evidence to suggest that using HRT for a prolonged period and at an advanced age may increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Having children early and breastfeeding for more than 12months reduces breast cancer risk


As is the case with the treatment of many other cancers like melanoma cancer treatment, early detection provides the best hope of breast cancer treatment and cure, and checks up with your doctor is the best way to detect breast cancer early. For those at elevated risk due to family history, additional forms of screening may also be recommended Free mammograms are available through Breast Screen Victoria for women aged 50 to 74 years old. More than 3/4 breast cancers occur in women over 50. Women 40 to 49 are also eligible for a free mammogram, however due to the density of breast tissue in younger women, the mammogram can be a less effective screening tool. Be “breast aware” & get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. It is recommended to check both breasts monthly for features such as lumps, dimples, nipple discharge or discolouration. For further information on how to check your breasts visit https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/breast-awareness

If you do notice any changes, see your GP as soon as possible. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of surviving it…& let’s do our best to achieve zero deaths by 2030!