October is Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, providing an ideal opportunity for us all to focus on breast cancer and its impact on those affected by the disease in our community.
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Survival rates continue to improve in Australia with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving five or more years beyond diagnosis.
Let’s take the time this month to find out what you need to know about breast awareness and share this important information with your family, friends and colleagues.
Be breast aware
Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease. Remember you don’t need to be an expert or use a special technique to check your breasts.
Early detection is key!
It’s important for women of all ages to know what they can do to help find breast cancer early. Finding breast cancer early means there are more treatment options and the chances of survival are greatest.
Changes to look for include:
- a new lump or lumpiness, especially if it’s only in one breast
- a change in the size or shape of your breast
- a change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
- a nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
- a change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
- an unusual pain that doesn’t go away.
Most changes aren’t due to breast cancer but it’s important to see your doctor without delay if you notice any of these changes.
How can you reduce your chances of getting breast cancer?
Over the course of your lifetime there are many factors that can influence your risk of breast cancer. While some of the most important of these risk factors, such as being a woman, getting older or having a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer and genetic factors, cannot be changed, you can still aim to reduce risk of breast cancer through making healthy lifestyle choices and other risk-reducing strategies.
You can also improve your chance of better outcomes by being breast aware and knowing what to do about finding breast cancer early.
Check your breasts
Breast cancer can be detected through a self-examination, mammogram or ultrasound screening of the breasts and it is advised that after the age of 30 women should go for a mammogram at least once a year.
If you have any concerns, please see your GP, the earlier the better.