We all know that early detection can boost the chances of surviving breast cancer. Many women have no signs or symptoms. However, some women do and there are things you can look out for.
Being ‘breast aware’ means becoming familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts and reporting any unusual breast changes to your doctor as soon as possible.
Self – examination
Everyone’s breasts look and feel different. You may have lumpy breasts, one breast larger than the other, breasts that are different shapes, or one or both nipples that are pulled in (inverted), which can be there from birth or happen when the breasts are developing.
Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts. There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts for any changes. Try to get used to looking at and feeling your breasts regularly. You can do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion, or when you get dressed. Just decide what you are comfortable with and what suits you best.
Remember to check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collarbone.
When you check your breasts, try to be aware of any changes that are different for you.
What to look for?
“I felt a lump,” is a common phrase for those who have had a breast cancer diagnosis, but there are many others symptoms or warning signs to watch for:
- a new lump in your breast or underarm (armpit)
- thickening or swelling of part of your breast
- irritation or dimpling of your breast skin
- redness or flaky skin in your nipple area or your breast
- pulling in of your nipple or pain in your nipple area
- nipple discharge other than breast milk
- any change in the size or the shape of your breast
- pain in any area of your breast
DO NOT DELAY!
Most breast changes are not likely to be breast cancer. However, if you find a change in your breast that’s unusual for you, see your doctor without delay.
Breast screening (mammography/mammogram) is a low dose x-ray examination of your breasts. It can sometimes detect breast cancer before there are any signs or symptoms (such as a lump you can feel). Screening mammograms aim to find breast cancer early, when treatment is likely to be most successful.
Women aged 40 and over are entitled to a free mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Australia, the national breast screening program. For those at increased risk yearly mammography may be offered and for those at very high risk breast MRI may be available outside of the Breastscreen program.
Mammographic screening is less effective in the detection of breast cancer for women under 40 years of age. If you are under 40 and are concerned you may be at increased risk for breast cancer, you should discuss this with one of our experienced GPs.
Even if you are having regular mammograms, you should still report any changes in your breasts to your doctor, as breast cancers can develop between mammograms.
for more information you can go to: www.bcna.org.au , www.cancer.org.au.