Breast cancer: Screening prevention, support and other aspects

Kate Connolly, Haryana Dhillon, Bruce Mann, Boon Chua, Eva Segelov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Breast cancer survival has increased and this probably reflects the detection of earlier stage cancers through screening and wider use of adjuvant systemic therapy. However, indigenous Australian women and women living in remote areas have a lower survival rate. Screening mammography is recommended every two years and is funded for women aged 50 to 74 years, the upper age limit having been recently increased from 69 years. The triple test of clinical, radiological and cytological/histological assessments remains the essential diagnostic approach to breast complaints. Modification of lifestyle risk factors such as weight, alcohol use and physical activity has become an area of interest recently in the primary and secondary prevention of breast cancer. Epidemiological studies have shown that engagement in a healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity promotes wellbeing and may improve survival. Follow up of patients treated for early breast cancer, about 80% of whom will achieve long-term survival, should be tailored to the needs of the individual patient. Regular clinical assessments and yearly bilateral mammography to screen for local recurrence or a new primary in the same or contralateral breast are generally recommended. Breast cancer treatments have physical and psychological side effects, some of which are long lasting and distressing. Ovarian failure as a consequence of chemotherapy impacts both fertility and menopausal status, but may reduce recurrence and improve survival in premenopausal patients with ER-positive tumours. Menopausal symptoms and psychological side effects of the various breast cancer treatments should be actively managed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine Today
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

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