Australian-first study may help prevent future breast cancers

The incidence of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in women aged 50-69 years was twice that of women aged 40-49 or 70 years and over, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the iSource National Breast Cancer Centre.

DCIS is a disease closely associated with breast cancer and one that significantly increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

Epidemiologist at the iSource National Breast Cancer Centre, Dr Anne Kricker said 1200 Australian women a year are diagnosed with DCIS-a disease that involves changes in the cells in the ducts of the breast and is not in itself life-threatening.

'More than half of the women diagnosed with DCIS were between 50 and 69 years of age, with the mean age at diagnosis being around 59 years,' Dr Kricker said.

DCIS is not normally palpable (able to be felt), and before the introduction of national mammographic screening in 1991 was rarely found.

Head of the AIHW's Health Registers and Cancer Monitoring Unit, John Harding, said that 58% of all cases were diagnosed through the BreastScreen Australia, with the remainder through other mammographic services.

'The high incidence of DCIS in women provides another reason for women in BreastScreen Australia's target age group, 50-69 years, to have regular mammographic screening,' Mr Harding said.

DCIS is mainly detectable through screening. Mammographic screening is available free through BreastScreen Australia.

DCIS figures were compiled in association with the State and Territory cancer registries, BreastScreen Australia, and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care

1 December 2000


Further information: John Harding, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1168 (bh) or 02 6248 6905 (ah). Anne Kricker, National Breast Cancer Centre, tel. 0407 952 649.
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032.