Breast cancer

08 August 2006

Women can beat cancer

Women can overcome many things. Just ask Kylie, who recently battled breast cancer. On Women's Day, the message is that the battle against this disease - and others - can be won.

Women can overcome many things. Just ask pop singer Kylie Minogue (38), who recently battled breast cancer.

Eleven percent of women will at some stage suffer from breast cancer. On Women's Day, the message is that the battle against this disease – and others – can be won.

"I love to say: you can get through it," Minogue said in an interview with Sky One. "You can."

The singer was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer while preparing for the Australian leg of her Showgirl Tour in May 2005. She underwent surgery in Melbourne and further treatment in Europe which ended in December.

She is now in remission.

What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells form a mass of extra tissue (a tumour) in the breast. Breast cancer is a general term for several different types of cancer that occur in the breast. In some kinds of cancer, cells can travel to other parts of the body.

Who gets breast cancer?

  • Eleven percent of women develop breast cancer and 77% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50 years of age.
  • Having one first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer doubles the risk; having two increases the risk five-fold.
  • Risk increases significantly if you have had cancer of the breast, ovaries, uterus or colon.
  • Cancer in one breast means there is a one percent chance/year of developing cancer in the other breast.
  • Men can also get breast cancer.

How is breast cancer diagnosed and treated?
The disease can be discovered by a breast examination (by yourself or a physician), mammography, ultrasound testing and/or biopsy.

Treatment depends on the stage and type of the cancer, as well as your age and health. Read more about the various treatment options that you have.

Treatment plans are divided into local and systemic therapy. Local therapy, such as surgery and radiation, aims to remove or kill cancer cells in the breast and adjacent lymph nodes. Systemic therapy may be in the form of chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. This may mean a tablet once a day or intravenous drugs.

New developments in the treatment of breast cancer
Read more about decoding breast cancer and why this is so revolutionary. You can now predict your chances of getting this disease by means of genetic testing. There are also new drugs available on the market, but they are very expensive. Will your medical scheme pay for these, should you need them?

Fragrance line for Kylie
To celebrate her life journey, Minogue has recently signed on for a collaboration of a different kind – her first fragrance. In the above picture, she is photographed with Coty CEO Bernard Beetz. Coty will develop and market Minogue's line of fragrances.

- (Health24, August 2006)

Read more:
Special Women's Day feature on Women24


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Ask the Expert

Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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