Breast check your breasts!

Breast check your breasts!

By the age of 85, one in seven women in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common cancer affecting Australian women.*

This year, that’s more than 19 807 women—our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends—and they need your help.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is a reminder to all women and men to check their breasts.

Dr Heidi Peverill is a Breast and Endocrine surgeon at Mater and is passionate about educating the community to check for early detection of any abnormalities.  

 “Mammograms are offered from 50 years of age but we encourage women of all ages to check their breasts monthly. Up to 50% of women diagnosed actually find their breast cancers themselves. This means self-examination and just generally becoming familiar with your breasts is important, so that you’re able to recognise any changes—it’s key for early detection,” Heidi said.

“If we find cancers earlier and smaller, the outcomes are much better.”

As a woman’s body can change throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, this month—Breast Cancer Awareness Month—is a timely reminder to check back in once you’ve finished breastfeeding and familiarise yourself with your ‘new’ breasts.

“Breasts change during pregnancy; from growing as they prepare for lactation and then usually shrinking when a woman has finished breastfeeding. These changes mean it’s even more important for women to become familiar with their breasts and then continue to check them again monthly,” Heidi said.

If you are worried about any change of your breasts, you should speak to your GP immediately.

“While doing your checks, you should be looking out for lumps, feeling for any new pain, changes in your nipple or any tethering of the skin. However, if you have any concerns about any changes, make an appointment with your doctor,” Heidi said.

In terms of breast cancer prevention, we now know some lifestyle factors can increase the chance a woman may develop breast cancer.

“We know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with regular exercise, keeping our weight in a healthy range and minimising alcohol intake, all contribute to reducing our breast cancer risk as we get older” Heidi said.

Through difficult times, breast cancer patients at Mater have found solace in each other and the Mater Chicks in Pink community.

“There is such a breadth of experience in breast cancer treatment at Mater, and the community support is so strong,” Heidi said.

Learn how you can support Mater's breast cancer patients, research projects and wellbeing services at https://fundraise.mater.org.au/BCAM20

*Cancer Australia, 2020

 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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