The following information is a brief description of some breast cancer basics.

There are many websites available with more comprehensive information and we always recommend discussing your case with your medical professionals as everybody is unique.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the body's cells. Normally, the body's cells grow and divide in an orderly way, allowing your body to grow and to heal after an injury. Occasionally, some cells behave in an abnormal way and grow into a lump called a tumour. Tumours can be benign (not a cancer) or malignant (a cancer). Benign tumours do not spread to other parts of the body.

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer is a malignant tumour which starts within the breast tissue. The majority of breast cancers begin in the milk ducts (intraductal cancers). A small number start in the milk sacs or lobules (lobular cancers). Within these two groups there are different types of breast cancer. Some grow very slowly, others develop more rapidly. Breast cancer can spread to the lymph glands and to other parts of the body such as the bones and liver.

How common is Breast Cancer?

Apart from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. One in nine New Zealand women will develop breast cancer during their lives. About 2000 women are diagnosed each year. Although unusual, men can develop breast cancer (approximately 1% of all breast cancers occur in men). Click on the link above to hear one man's story of breast cancer.

What causes Breast Cancer?

The cause of breast cancer is unknown. However, it is most unlikely that there is one single cause. A number of factors, some known and many unknown, probably work together to trigger its growth. Breast cancer usually occurs in women over 50 and all women are at risk as they grow older. Although breast cancer does occur in women under 50, increasing age is the main factor influencing the risk of getting breast cancer. The factors listed below also seem to put women at slightly higher risk. However, they explain only a small number of breast cancer cases.

Women with a strong family history of breast cancer have an increased chance of getting breast cancer and a 60% increased risk of ovarian cancer. The increase in risk can be very small to quite large (only 5-10% of all breast cancers are hereditary), depending upon the number of relatives affected, the age of the relatives when their breast cancer was found, and the type of breast cancer they had.

Researchers are looking into a number of factors which may influence the development of breast cancer. Because breast cancer is more common in certain countries, lifestyle factors, such as diet are thought to be important. (Did you know that two glasses of wine each day could give you an increased risk of 41%?). Women who have already had breast cancer do have a slightly higher chance of a new breast cancer developing in their other breast. 

Hormone changes linked with pregnancy and menopause also appear to have an effect. None of these factors are certain enough though, to predict who will develop breast cancer. Risks linked with the pill suggest a possible increased risk of 10% and women on HRT can have an increased risk of up to 35%.

Contribute to our free local support and education programmes – make a difference in our community and donate today.

Helpful links

There is a lot of information out there and starting to google 'breast cancer' can bring up a myriad of different sources of information. Hard to know what is reliable and what is not and it can be a bit scary reading some of what is on the internet. Here are some websites you may find useful:

MacMillan Cancer Support is a UK site with loads of information about cancer in general and specific information about breast cancer.

Health Navigator NZ helps you find reliable and trustworthy information and self help resources about breast cancer.

Better Health Channel is a Victorian (Australian) website and has information about breast cancer.NZ 

Breast Cancer Foundation is a national organisation based in Auckland with a focus on research and education. It is packed full of useful information.

A sample of the books available in our lending library

Recovering From Breast Surgery
Exercises to strengthen your body and relieve pain - Diana Stumm

Sink or Swim
When life becomes precious, you don't waste a moment - Shelley Hanna

Why I wore lipstick to my mastectomy - Geralyn Lucas

I am not my Breast Cancer
Women talk openly about love and sex, hair loss and weight gain, mothers and daughters, and being a woman with Breast Cancer - Ruth Peltason

Healing Foods - Miriam Polunin

Can I Still Kiss You?
Answering Your Children's Questions About Cancer - Neil Russell 

My Mum's Got CancerDr Lucy Blunt

The Breast Cancer Survivors Fitness PlanCarolyn M Kaelin, M.D., M.P.H.

Fighting For Our Future
How Young Women Find Strength, Hope, and Courage While Taking Control of Breast Cancer - Beth Murphy

Your Life In Your Hands
Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer - Professor Jane Plant

Our Support Workers know our library well and can help you to find what you are looking for.

Baring it All

Andrea Fairbairn is a New Zealand writer and has had breast cancer twice. "I wrote this Ebook focusing on survival for survivors. It describes what breast cancer survival is really like and some of the best ways to get through it. I wanted to provide some simplicity and inspiration as well as practical tips to help survivors find their footing once more and hopefully make life easier. I believe in not just surviving but celebrating life." - Andrea Fairbairn

FAQs

Will using your services cost me anything?

No, we do not charge for our services, although for some activities we may ask for a small donation. We rely on donations from the public, sponsors, grants from trusts and special events to support our free support and education programmes.

Will I be dealing with people who have actually experienced breast cancer?

Our Support Workers and Buddies are all people living with breast cancer. They understand the fears and feelings that come with a breast cancer diagnosis; they've been through it themselves. They are here to help you successfully navigate the journey by offering practical and emotional support, hope, encouragement and information.

Are you a branch of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation?

No, Breast Cancer Support Services Tauranga Trust is an independent charitable trust. We do not receive funding from Government, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation or the Cancer Society. We rely on donations from the public, sponsors, grants from trusts and special events to support our free support and education programmes. All money donated to us stays local – we provide local support services for local people with a breast cancer diagnosis.

Are donations to Breast Cancer Support Tauranga tax deductible?

Yes, we are a registered charity. If you would like to donate, just remember that no amount is too small, every dollar counts and we appreciate all donations! All donations of $5.00 or more are receipted and are eligible for a tax deduction.

Do I have to come to your office?

You are welcome to come to our office or talk with a Support Worker on the phone.

Are you government funded?

No, Breast Cancer Support Services Tauranga Trust is an independent charitable trust. We do not receive funding from Government, NZ Breast Cancer Foundation or the Cancer Society.

What might a support buddy offer?

Breast Cancer Support Service Buddys can give you a call, meet you for coffee or come to an appointment with you - the amount of contact is really up to you and your support buddy to decide.

I want to help raise some money to help you to support local people with breast cancer - how can I do that?

Fantastic, you can help us at one of our fundraising events or feel free to hold your own fundraising event. Holding a fundraising event will not only help us financially but it will also help us achieve one of our objectives of increased awareness and education. Whether you want to host with friends, at work or school, Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust welcomes your support! Your event can be as simple or as creative as you want. You could encourage your work to have a pink breakfast, a pink mufti day, sell pink muffins, hold a quiz night, or host a girls' night in, - the options are endless. Give us a call at the office if you'd like some help with ideas!
 

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