October is breast cancer awareness month; an annual campaign that helps to increase awareness of the disease through education and support.
Know Your Breasts
Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women. While survival rates continue to improve for women with breast cancer in Australia – the overall 5-year survival rate for breast cancer in females is now 90% – it is still important to be breast aware and know what signs to look out for. Dr Hunt explains how regularly you should check your breasts, some of the important changes to look out for and when you should see a doctor.
It is important to check your breast for any changes on a regular basis. You know your breasts and your body better than anyone else – if you notice a change it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Make sure you check your breasts at different times of the month. Your breasts can change during your menstrual cycle, so it is good to know how they may feel or change as a result of this.
It is also common for your breasts to change during the menopause and it is recommended for women over the age of 50 to attend regular breast screens. In fact, Australian women aged between 50-74 are invited to access free mammograms every 2 years via the BreastScreen Australia program.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Many changes in your breasts aren’t a result of breast cancer, but it’s always important to see your doctor as soon as you notice any of these changes:
- A new lump, or lumpiness particularly if it’s only in one breast
- A change in shape or size of your breast
- Pain that doesn’t go away
- Changes to the nipple, such as redness, inversion, ulcers or crusting
- Nipple discharge that is not milky or bleeding from the nipples
- Change to the skin on your breast, such as redness or dimpling
Getting used to how your breasts feel means you’re more likely to know what is normal and when something might be wrong. If you would like to learn more about breast cancer, including symptoms, diagnosis and treatment please click here.
If you have had breast surgery to treat breast cancer, then you may be considering breast reconstruction surgery. Reconstructive surgery is complex and must be tailored to your specific needs. The type of surgery you have – lumpectomy, mastectomy, node removal – will have a big influence on the type of reconstructive procedure you require. Dr Hunt will thoroughly explain all the options to you, and you will find a welcoming and supportive environment.