House debates

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Breast Cancer

10:01 am

Photo of Jill HallJill Hall (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women. It is estimated that 15,270 Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. However, it is important to remember that most women survive breast cancer. Breast cancer in men, while it is very rare, does occur, with 113 Australian men diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.

Breast cancer symptoms can include lumpiness or thickening; changes to the nipples, such as a change in shape, crusting, a sore or an ulcer, redness, unusual discharge or an inverted nipple; changes to the skin of the breast, such as dimpling of the skin, unusual redness or other colour changes; an increase or decrease in the size of a breast; a change in the shape of the breast; swelling or discomfort in the armpit; and persistent, unusual pain that is not related to normal monthly menstrual cycles and that remains.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women, representing 28 per cent of all cancers in women. About one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85. Although it can occur at any age, breast cancer is more common in older women. More than two in three women—that is, 69 per cent of women—are diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 69. About one in four—that is, 25 per cent—are diagnosed at age 70 and over. Nearly 80 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have an invasive ductal carcinoma, while 11 per cent have a different type of breast cancer.

I think it is really important to reflect on breast cancer in this last week of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I put on the record my support for all the work is being done in that area. Tomorrow I will be hosting a breast cancer morning tea at Windale in my electorate and I have invited a number of women from throughout the electorate to attend.

I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of Professor John Forbes AM, who is the Director of Research of the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, which is based in Newcastle. The research that has been done by this group is cutting-edge. Professor Forbes has been referred to many times in this place—the previous member for Hume was a great advocate of the work that he does—and he has been given the title 'Mr Breast Cancer' because of the fine work that he has done. At my morning tea, we will have guest speakers from the breast cancer trial and Dr Susie Smith will be speaking at the event. I am asking people to donate a gold coin. In addition, we are going to have raffles and a lot of activities and the funds will be donated to breast cancer research.

Breast cancer is not something we can take lightly. The rate of cure of breast cancer and the number of women surviving after five years have increased. This will only continue if we have more research and people become more aware. The reasons survival rates have increased vary from the treatments to the fact that women are more aware of the symptoms and with early detection through regular mammograms. I encourage women to have their mammogram once every two years. For people in my electorate, come along and hear Dr Susie Smith speak and also hear speakers from the Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation. It will be a great morning and there will be lots of information.