October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which helps to raise awareness of the disease, educate about its symptoms and prevention and fund research into causes, treatment, and cure.
Since the campaign’s inception in 1985, rates of diagnosis have been increased, while mortality rates have continued to fall.
Northern Health’s Breast Care Nurse Consultant, Cheryl Murray, noted, “Early detection is key. The sooner the cancer is identified, the sooner treatment options can be explored.”
Advancements in imaging and treatment have meant that patients receive a truly tailored care plan allowing patients to live longer and fuller lives, with overall figures sitting around 92 per cent life expectancy beyond five years post diagnosis.
In 2022, the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer over your lifetime was one in seven for women and one in 555 for men. Around 75 per cent of new cases were diagnosed in women aged 50 and over.
“BreastScreen Australia figures show that 60 per cent of cancers detected were less than 15 mm in size, while only 28 per cent of cancers of the same size were found using non-screen detection methods. Regular breast screening is vital, but knowing ‘your normal’ is important too. Breasts come in all different shapes and sizes, so be breast aware,” Ms Murray said.
Look at the shape and appearance of your breasts and nipples in the mirror with your hands by your sides and then above your head.
Feel all of your breast and nipples, looking for anything that isn’t normal for you. Feel from your collarbone to below the bra line and under your armpits.
Learn what is normal for you. See your doctor if you notice any changes.
“The ‘Know your lemons’ campaign is a great way to help visualise changes in your breasts without being too confronting, in language that is easy to grasp,” Ms. Murray added.
BreastScreen Victoria provides free mammograms to women and trans and gender diverse people with no signs or symptoms of breast cancer between the ages of 50 and 74. If you’re in the 40 – 49 age bracket BreastScreen Australia has a free screening program available. Click here to find out more.
To hear more about Cheryl and the wonderful work being done by Northern Health’s breast care team, tune in to the latest episode of Visiting Hours available here, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.