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Awareness and Statistics

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. In Australia, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Wendy Ingman   2017

What Causes Breast Cancer?

Although breast cancer doesn’t have a specific cause, there are some lifestyle factors that increase the risk of developing breast cancer. These include:

Smoking

As we all know, smoking increases the risk of developing many cancers and diseases, including breast cancer. Smoking from a young age can significantly increase the risk of breast cancer.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol may rise oestrogen levels in the body and is associated with a 30% to 50% increased risk of breast cancer.

Obesity

Being an unhealthy weight is associated with a 20% to 40% increased risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Family History

Women who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer, including parents and siblings, are twice as likely to get it than women without one.

Age

Unfortunately, the older you get, your cells become damaged and there is an increased risk they can turn cancerous.

Dense Breasts

Recent studies have shown women with more dense tissue in their breasts may have an increased risk of breast cancer as dense breasts makes screening more difficult.

Gene Mutations

Up to 1 in 10 breast cancers are due to family history of BRCA1, BRCA2 and other genetic mutations.

Knowing Your Breasts Could Save Your Life

Being breast aware is most important to detect any abnormalities in your breasts. By knowing your breasts and how they feel will help you detect any small or big changes that could be abnormal.

How to Self-Check

It’s important for you to become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts. When checking, use your first few fingers, feeling in a circular motion from your collarbone to below your bra-line and under your armpit too. Follow a pattern so you know you’ve covered the whole breast.

If you notice any changes, please consult with your GP.

Signs

The most important signs every woman needs to look for include:

  • Is there any redness, soreness, swelling or rashes?
  • Has your nipple changed position or become inverted?
  • Is there any fluid leaking from one or both nipples? This can be watery or even blood stained
  • Are your breasts their usual size, shape and colour?
  • Is there any dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin?

The national breast cancer screening program, BreastScreen Australia, aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from breast cancer. The program provides free 2-yearly screening mammograms to women 40 and over, and actively targets women aged 50–74, to detect unsuspected breast cancers in women who have no symptoms.

 

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