Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 to 9 women in Australia, the key to effective treatment is early detection and institution of quality treatment in a high volume center.

Risk of breast cancer increases with

Major factors

  • Age (especially >45)
  • Family history (higher with first degree relatives including mother sister or daughter)

Minor factors

  • Nulliparity (non child bearing)
  • Early menarche and late menopause
  • Obesity
  • Combination hormone therapy

Effective methods of early detection:

  • Diligent self evaluation
  • Breast screen
  • Early review with medical practitioner (GP or specialist)

Early signs or symptoms

  • Palpable lump
  • Skin retraction
  • Skin dimpling
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Nipple discharge – especially if it is persistent, one side, single duct, bloody and spontaneous (ie comes out by itself)
  • Lumps in the armpit (lymphadenopathy)

Note: pain is usually NOT a sign of breast cancer however persistent pain or discomfort should still be evaluated by a medical practitioner.


  • Lumpectomy – small singular tumours (usual standard first line of management)
  • Mastectomy – for larger, multifocal cancers or extensive disease (rarely used as first line unless clinically indicated)
  • Sentinel node biopsy – sampling of nodes in axilla (armpit) of the side of the cancer
  • Axillary clearance – where all of the nodes in the armpit are removed on the side of the tumour. This is usually when one or more nodes are proven to be involved with cancer.

Adjuvant treatments

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Hormonal therapy

These treatments are designed to prevent future recurrence, their institution is based on the results of the pathology once the tumor is removed hence will vary in each individual case. All patients will be presented at the St George Breast cancer multidisciplinary meeting and the outcomes discussed with the patients