October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, therefore there is no better time to check your boobs! Book that mammogram and encourage your friends to do the same. It is early detection of lumps and bumps that makes all the difference and gives the best possible chance of survival.

What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is cancer that starts in the breast tissue. It mainly affects women, but men can also get breast cancer. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. One in seven Australian women and one in 675 Australian men are expected to be diagnosed in their lifetime according to National Breast Cancer Foundation.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
Symptoms of breast cancer may include:
  • A lump or thickening in the breast, especially if it is only in one breast
  • Changes to the shape or size of the breast
  • Changes to the shape of the nipple, such as crusting, sores or ulcers, redness or inversion (a nipple that turns in when it used to point out)
  • Changes to the skin of the breast, such as dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel), a rash, scaly appearance, unusual redness or other colour changes
  • Fluid leaking or discharge from the nipple that occurs without squeezing
  • Persistent, unusual pain that won’t go away
  • Swelling or discomfort in the armpit
What should I do if I experience any of the symptoms of breast cancer?
The best thing to do is to see your doctor for further examination. Most breast changes are not due to cancer, but it is important to see your doctor to be sure.

How to check your breast?
Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes. There is no special technique or training needed. It is a simple as looking and touching your breasts to notice or feel for anything unusual. Make sure this includes all parts of your breast, your armpit and up to your collarbone. If you are unsure, make an appointment with your doctor.

For women of all ages it is recommended to be breast aware. Get to know your boobs, ladies. It does not replace having regular mammograms and other screening tests as recommended by your doctor, but it is the first step to recognising any changes.

What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of your breast. Mammograms are used to regularly check for breast cancer.

The above information has been collated from the National Breast Cancer Foundation. For more detail or to donate visit www.nbcf.org.au.