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Lessons to be learned from Kylie's cancer rev -

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Lessons to be learned from Kylie's cancer revelations

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:54:00

Reporter: Barbara Miller

ASHLEY HALL: Doctors say there's a lesson to be learned from Kylie Minogue's latest revelation
about her experience of breast cancer.

The singer has told a US talk show that she was initially misdiagnosed and given the all clear for
breast cancer.

She says she doesn't want to cause alarm, but that women shouldn't trust someone's opinion just
because they are wearing a white coat and have lots of impressive equipment.

Barbara Miller reports:

BARBARA MILLER: It was an apparently an unplanned revelation.

The US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was asking Kylie Minogue about her feelings on being
diagnosed with breast cancer while touring in May 2005.

KYLIE MINOGUE: Listen. This is an opportunity for me to say something that I've not said before. I
was misdiagnosed initially.


KYLIE MINOGUE: So my message to all of you and everyone at home is, because someone is in a white
coat and using big, you know, medical instruments, doesn't necessarily mean they're right and the
amount of stories that I've heard of women going for a diagnosis, being told, don't you worry about
a thing - it's fine.

BARBARA MILLER: That's exactly what happened to Margaret, a caller to ABC local radio.

MARGARET, TALKBACK CALLER: He said "go home, have a nice Christmas. If you're worried about it in
February, come back".

I said, "Well what is it?"

He said, "I don't know but it doesn't matter, it's not breast cancer".

I said, "Look, can you give me a referral for someone who can check it out?"

He said "come back in the New Year if you still want a referral".

I said "just give it to me now if you don't mind, I've got a daughter. I can't keep running back to
the doctor".

He gave it to me. I've gone in to see a breast surgeon thankfully and it was breast cancer.

BARBARA MILLER: Dr Karen Luxford is the general manager at the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer

She cautions that such stories are not that common, but says women should insist on having what's
known as the triple test if they are worried about breast cancer:

KAREN LUXFORD: We don't have exact statistics but the numbers misdiagnosed are quite low. Women
should be reassured that if they have the right tests and that would be what we call the triple
test - a combination of clinical examination, imaging and biopsy -then over 99 per cent of cancers
will be found.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think though, that if a woman is given the all clear after consulting a GP
as was the case with Kylie Minogue, that she should seek a second opinion.

KAREN LUXFORD: If their concern persists, it is important that women do follow it up and seek a
second opinion.

BARBARA MILLER: Professor John Boyages is the Director of the New South Wales Breast Cancer
Institute at Westmead Hospital says breast cancer can be difficult to diagnose.

JOHN BOYAGES: It can be difficult, particularly in younger women because we can't see as well
through the breasts and sometimes in younger women, they may have a lump during pregnancy for
example or during breast feeding.

They may get a mastitis which usually is a mastitis but sometimes can be a rare type of breast
cancer called inflammatory breast cancer.

So not even the best specialist can tell with their fingers.

BARBARA MILLER: The experts caution though that it's not just complacency on the part of doctors
that can lead to breast cancer going undetected.

JOHN BOYAGES: The biggest delay that can occur is a woman who doesn't pick up the phone and call 13
20 50 to get a free mammogram.

BARBARA MILLER: A message echoed by Karen Luxford:

KAREN LUXFORD: We know that in Australia, we have about a 56 per cent participation rate in
BreastScreen for the main target age group, so we need to encourage women to be doing more to find
cancers earlier.

ASHLEY HALL: Dr Karen Luxford from the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre ending Barbara
Miller's report.