The New Zealand Breast Cancer FoundationTuesday 25 February 2014, 11:24AM
Media release from Breast Cancer Foundation
For the first time, the number of NZ women diagnosed with breast
cancer in one year has topped 3000, according to provisional 2012
figures from the Ministry of Health. Unfortunately, that growth
isn't due just to our increasing population - the age-standardised
rate of breast cancer per 100,000 women has also grown.
One of the 3003 women diagnosed in 2012 was Nicki Hayles, of
Christchurch. The mum of three teenagers was 47 at the time, with
no family history of breast cancer, and was enrolled in
BreastScreen Aotearoa's free screening mammograms. Between
mammograms, Nicki felt some pain in one breast. When it grew worse,
and she noticed some redness on her breast, she went to the doctor.
Her GP suggested a cyst, but when Nicki called BreastScreen
Aotearoa to postpone her regular mammogram because of the pain, an
alert nurse followed up and made sure Nicki was referred to the
hospital breast clinic. Mammogram and ultrasound revealed a 2cm
lump, which turned out to be a grade 3 invasive cancer.
"I didn't realise soreness and redness could mean anything like
breast cancer," Nicki says. "And I was really surprised that the
cancer had grown that big between mammograms. I'm so grateful to
the nurse who rang me."
Nicki's story is a reminder of the need to stay vigilant about your
breast health, even when you're having mammograms. Reducing the
number of women diagnosed with breast cancer is still an "out
there" goal for researchers working to understand risk and
prevention - but what we do know today is that detecting breast
cancer early saves lives. Of those 3003 women diagnosed in 2012,
12% were under the free screening age of 45, and a quarter were
over 69, when free screening ends. Please, whatever your age,
get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts, and report
any changes to your doctor.
Possible signs of breast cancer include:
• A new lump or thickening in the breast or armpit area
• A change in breast shape or size
• A pain in the breast that is unusual
• A change in the skin of the breast, areola or nipple, e.g.
colour, dimpling, puckering or reddening
• Any change in the nipple, e.g. a turned in nipple or a
if you notice any changes in your breasts, see a doctor (even if
you've had a mammogram recently).
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