Breast cancer

12 January 2005

Breast screening cuts deaths by third

Women who undergo regular mammograms might appreciate knowing that the discomfort of the process has a huge payoff: breast screenings reduce your chances of dying of breast cancer

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Women who undergo regular mammograms might appreciate knowing that the discomfort of the process has a huge payoff: breast screenings reduce your chances of dying of breast cancer by almost two-thirds.

The results come from Sweden, which has had comprehensive breast cancer screening since the late 1970s.

Women between the ages of 40 and 69 who received regular screening reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 63 percent, compared to the early 1970s when mammograms were not used routinely, The Times of London reports.

In South Africa, only the private sector can afford breast screenings, as the government cannot afford to offer this medical service.

Lifestyle changes

There are, however, simple changes in lifestyle can also reduce the lifetime chance of developing breast cancer, although a recent European survey reveals that many women are fatalistic about the disease and mistakenly believe that their risk is either genetically predetermined or random.

Another Times story reports that three lifestyle factors account for one third of all breast cancers. Results of the European Breast Cancer Conference indicate that many women can cut the risk of disease by drinking fewer than two glasses of alcohol daily; eating five portions of vegetables (they're more protective than fruit); and engaging in a daily exercise equivalent to 30 minutes of walking.

Read more:
Treating breast cancer with surgery
Breast reconstruction and personal considerations

 

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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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