How to detect (and protect against) breast cancer and how to monitor your breast health
Awareness of any kind is useful, but in the instance of breast cancer, awareness has the power to change, and save, lives. Each October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month encourages generations of women to become familiar with the signs of breast cancer, and reminds us that early detection is the key to protecting against the disease and drastically improving outcomes.
Since the inception of the month-long campaign in 1985, survival rates for breast cancer have improved significantly in Australia (between 1989–1993 and 2014–2018, the five-year relative survival rate improved from 77% to 92%*), as have the resources, services and education around it. It's important that we keep up these amazing statistics and improve even further by staying educated and aware of the health of our own breasts.
Read on for tips on how to check and care for your breasts and what to expect during a medical breast check.
Know your ‘normal’
You know yourself and your body best, and it’s important to understand your own breast health and what’s normal for you. Signs to look out for that indicate our breast health might be compromised include:
Appearance: Changes in size of either breast; any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin; or veins that stand out more than usual.
Lumps: Thickening in either breast; any swelling or lumps under your armpit or around your collarbone.
Feelings: Pain or discomfort in one part of either breast or in your armpit, especially if new and persistent.
Nipple change: A nipple that has become pulled in, changed shape or shows signs of any discharge, bleeding, rash or crusted, flaky skin.
Performing your own breast check
If experiencing any new or unusual change in your breast(s), it’s strongly advised that you have this checked by a GP. During a breast check, you can expect to have both your breasts assessed when you are sitting, and again when you are lying down, as well as having the lymph nodes around your underarm and neck examined. If there’s any cause for concern, you’ll be referred to a specialist breast unit to have a breast screening (mammogram).
Because the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age, women in Australia over 40 are entitled to a free mammogram every two years — even in the absence of any symptoms and regardless of breast history.
Breast care practices with endota Organics™
Remember, early detection saves lives, which is why we encourage you to check your breasts today, tomorrow and every day after that. Should you notice any changes in your breast tissue, make sure to seek professional medical advice.
Looking for more information on women’s health? Read our blog on perimenopause.