In this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the McGrath Foundation reminds Australian women that they are in control of their own breast health and encourages them to make it the perfect time to master the simple three-step approach to breast checking, ” Look, feel, learn ”.
“With everything going on right now, including the temporary closures of some testing services, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or worried. But it’s important to remember that many breast cancers are self-detected, which means women, and men too, can still monitor the health of their breasts, even in these unpredictable times, ”said Holly Masters , CEO of the McGrath Foundation.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that more than two-thirds of breast cancers in women aged 40 and over are detected outside the national screening program, so there has never been better time to “get to know your couple”.
“At the McGrath Foundation, we say, ‘if you grow them, know them’. In this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage women to learn how to control their breasts and, most importantly, to see a doctor if you notice anything unusual.
“Detecting breast cancer early while it is still small and confined to the breast offers the best chance of effective treatment. It is so important that if you find a lump or notice any changes in your breasts, you seek immediate medical attention. Don’t wait until the lockdowns or the pandemic are over, ”Holly said.
“We encourage everyone who is eligible to participate in their regular breast screening when they can, but in the meantime, or for younger women, the power is literally in your hands; Now is the time to make self-checking a regular habit, ”said Holly.
Symptoms to look for are bumps, pain, thickening of the skin, redness, inverted nipples, dimples, sores on the skin, and crusting or discharge from the nipples.
Part of understanding breast health is getting to know your breasts, so that you know what is normal for you.
In October, The McGrath Foundation asks everyone to follow this simple process, developed by their McGrath Breast Care Nurses, and repeat it once a month.
The more you examine your breasts, the more you learn about them and the easier it will be to tell if anything has changed.
1. Look at the shape and appearance of your breasts and nipples in the mirror with your hands by your side. Raise your arms above your head and look again.
2. Feel – all of your breasts and nipples, looking for anything that is not normal for you. Feel from your collarbone all the way below the bra line and under your armpits as well.
3. Learn – what is normal for you! Breasts come in different shapes and sizes, so get to know your normal. See your doctor if you notice any changes.
Check yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. If you don’t have a period, choose a day that you can easily remember, such as the first or last day of the month.
Many people are surprised to learn that in addition to the 19,866 women, 164 men are also expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. It is therefore also important that men are aware of the breasts.
For more information on understanding breast health, visit mcgrathfoundation.com.au/breastawareness
To find your nearest McGrath Breast Care Nurse, visit mcgrathfoundation.com.au/get-support/find-a-nurse