October is Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and provides an opportunity for our community to focus on breast cancer and how it may affect those of us touched in some way by the disease.
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer.
Over 15,050 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by age 85 is 1 in 8 for women.
BREAST CANCER SYMPTOMS
The symptoms can include:
- new lumps or thickening in the breast or under the arm
- nipple sores
- nipple discharge or turning in
- skin of the breast dimpling
- rash or red swollen breasts.
Pain is rare.
CAUSES OF BREAST CANCER
The causes of breast cancer are unknown, but risk factors include:
- increasing age
- family history
- inheritance of mutations in the genes BRCA2, BRCA1 and CHEK2
- exposure to female hormones (natural and administered)
- obesity (poor diet and inadequate exercise) and
- excess alcohol consumption.
There is also an association with some benign breast disease and past exposure to radiation.
BE BREAST AWARE
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.
Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease. Performing regular breast self examinations will help to identify any changes in your breasts. Remember you don’t need to be an expert or use a special technique to check your breasts.
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.
SCREENING FOR BREAST CANCER
It is recommended that women from the age of 40 receive annual mammograms. The Specialist Women’s Imaging Centre located within Coastal Imaging on Nicklin Way, Currimundi, is offering bulk billed mammograms to patients of Currimundi Family Doctors during the month of October. You will be required to obtain a referral from your doctor prior to booking a mammogram.
It is recommended that women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, aged between 40 and 49 or over 75 discuss options with their GP.
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