Keeping Things In Perspective

Breast cancer awareness programs have resulted in a wealth of information in the public domain about beast cancer.

We are told that over 2400 new cases are diagnosed annually and that more than 600 women die from this disease each year.

New Zealand women are told that they have a 1 in 10 chance of developing breast cancer. (This figure in itself is misleading as it is calculated on the assumption that all women lived to about 80).

Fortunately of course even this figure means that 90% of women will not get breast cancer and we know that only one third of those diagnosed will die from the disease!

Overall only about 3% of women will die from breast cancer.

This figure is a concern but to keep things in perspective it needs to be compared with other disease rates.

The statistics for prostate cancer in men are very similar with 594 deaths.

Equally astonishing is the totally unheralded fact that 546 women die from lung cancer and a further 563 from bowel cancer annually.

Cancer kills more than 7000 New Zealanders each year and only 600 of these have breast cancer.

These cancer figures themselves are only a small part of the overall health statistics. Ischaemic heart disease, smoking related illness, diabetes, obesity and other preventable diseases are wreaking havoc in our communities.

Few women are aware that they have a far greater chance of dying from heart disease (2704 deaths) or a stroke (1620 deaths) than breast cancer.

To improve women's health significantly we need a broad based strategy that deals with all aspects of health.

Some of the most simple changes will make a huge difference at very little cost.

  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise more
  • Drink less alcohol

Pay attention to diet cutting down on fat, red meat and eating more fresh fruit and vegetables.

Take time to relax and enjoy life - keep things in perspective.

Read more about risk reduction

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Meet the Surgeon

Trevor Smith MBChB FCS

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