Cases of thyroid cancer are on the rise in Victoria with the cancer type recording one of the fastest growing incidence rates over the past three decades.
New figures released today to mark the launch of Cancer Council's Unite In Pink campaign also show Victorian women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer than men.
Today, thyroid is one of the most common cancers in young women, ranking as the second most common cancer for women aged 15-24 years, and the fourth most common among those aged 25-59 years. On average, it also occurs at a younger age than other cancers, with the median age of women at diagnosis being 51 years compared to 66 years for all other cancers.
Since 1982, incidence rates of thyroid cancer have increased on average 4.6 per cent per year in men and 6.4 per cent in women. Overall, thyroid cancer is the seventh most common cancer in women, and 18th most common in men.
The significant increase in thyroid cancer can be largely attributed to advanced diagnostic technologies such as ultrasound and fine needle biopsy, as well as increasing levels of obesity.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the Victorian Cancer Registry data on thyroid cancer had been released to mark the start of October, a month when women's cancers were firmly on the agenda.
"During October we invite everyone to Unite In Pink to raise funds and awareness for women's cancers, such as breast, gynaecological, and other cancers affecting women, like thyroid.
"There are a number of ways people can show their support and get involved, such as hosting a Girls' Night In, or volunteering to sell or purchasing some Pink Ribbon Day merchandise."
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Girls' Night In which encourages women to host a night in with their girlfriends during October to raise funds for women's cancers. Funds raised go towards Cancer Council's research, prevention programs, and support services.
"With the help of thousands of Girls' Night In hosts we have raised almost $9 million dollars in the past 10 years in Victoria - wouldn't it be brilliant to break the $10 million mark in our 10th year of Girls' Night In?!" Mr Harper said.
Mr Harper said that while thyroid cancer was increasingly common, its survival rates were encouraging.
"Survival following thyroid diagnosis is one of the highest of all cancers - with five-year survival at 85 per cent for women and 90 per cent for men. With more women being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and surviving, the need for support and information is also greater."
Mr Harper said Girls' Night In was a unique campaign as it allows women to fundraise and raise awareness of breast and gynaecological cancers; as well as other cancers affecting women, such as thyroid cancer.
"Thyroid cancer, like many other lesser known cancers, doesn't receive the same level of attention as more common cancers do. It is now the seventh most common cancer among Victorian women and with incidence rates on the rise Cancer Council is keen to spread the word about the impact of this forgotten cancer.
"Girls' Night In provides an easy and fun way to have a real impact on women's cancers. The beauty of Girls' Night In is that you can make your event whatever you want to be, whilst knowing you are making a tangible difference to Victorian women affected by cancer."
To get involved, simply register to host an event in October, invite your girlfriends over for a night in and ask them to donate what they would have spent on a night out. All funds raised will go towards the women's cancer projects that need it most.
To register as a Girls' Night In host, visit www.girlsnightin.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85.