Janette Howard beat cervical cancer

|
A decade after her diagnosis, Prime Minister John Howard's wife Janette has revealed publicly for the first time her battle against cervical cancer. Until now, the intensely private Mrs Howard had not disclosed which type of cancer she had suffered. Soon after her husband became prime minister in 1996, he called off his first overseas trip due to her ill health.
No details of her condition were revealed until two years later, when Mrs Howard confirmed she had been seriously ill with cancer. In a magazine interview, she said she had survived her cancer with a "good prognosis" after undergoing treatment that included surgery - but she did not reveal the type of cancer. It was widely believed Mrs Howard had overcome breast cancer. But on Monday she said: "I didn't have breast cancer. "My cancer was cervical cancer and you know there were media stories that this would all just sort of clear up," Mrs Howard, a patron of the National Breast Cancer Centre (NBCC), revealed to about 800 people at the launch of a breast cancer report in Sydney. Cervical cancer is the 18th most common cause of cancer deaths in Australian women, accounting for 227 deaths in 2002. The latest cervical cancer statistics, from an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, show that there were 745 new cases of the disease Australia-wide in 2000. That was a marked drop from the 1,072 new cases detected in 1989, before the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program. Mrs Howard's address was part of her ongoing campaign to encourage women to know their bodies and respond quickly to changes to increase their chances of surviving cancer. The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month event included the release of a report showing that while yearly breast cancer rates have doubled in 20 years, survival rates have risen from 71 per cent in the early 1980s to 85 per cent currently. Annual breast cancer rates in women have risen from 5,318 in 1983 to 12,027 in 2002, the report said. In addition, 43 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983, compared to 84 in 2002. Nearly 15,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by 2011. "Do check your body. Know what the normal state of it is even if it isn't as pleasant to look at as it used to be," Mrs Howard said. "Don't postpone that attention because this week's busy ... or everything is going well for the family and you don't want to throw a spanner in the works." Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott said he was "disappointed" by statistics showing only 56 per cent of women were undergoing regular mammograms. "I'm a little disappointed that so many of us, out of a misguided sense of stoicism, don't go to the doctor as soon as we detect problems," Mr Abbott said. source

Info

Previous entry: Woman accused of faking cancer to make money

Next entry: Chemobrain: When cancer treatment disrupts your thinking and memory

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.