A month-long awareness campaign in creating long-lasting impact in beating breast cancer
Held every year in the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides an opportunity to help increase support, attention and awareness for breast cancer.
This month-long campaign aims to put the focus on early detection, treatment as well as palliative care for breast cancer across Australia.
During this month, our Market Street Medical Practice team aims to make a positive impact by educating our community and ourselves about the disease and how proactive breast screenings can help women beat cancer.
About Breast Cancer in Australia
Breast Cancer remains the most common type of cancer impacting Australian women.
Infact, on average around 48 women are being diagnosed with breast cancer every single day in Australia with the risk of being diagnosed with one increasing as we grow older.
Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the breast lobules and ducts which can quickly grow, potentially spreading to other parts of the body if not treated timely.
Since the causes of breast cancer is still a subject of research, early detection remains the cornerstone to beat breast cancer.
Be aware of your breast health
The best way to prevent breast cancer is being able to identify the signs as early as possible.
Based on mammographic screening studies in Australia, it is estimated that around 8 deaths can be prevented from breast cancer if detected early.
The main focus should be on the importance of women being aware of the normal look and feel of their breast health and reporting any unusual changes immediately to their local GPs.
Unusual breast health symptoms to look for :
- A lump or lumps or lumpiness in the breast or under the arm.
- Changes in the size and shape of the breast.
- Changes on the skin around the breast including signs like redness, dimpling.
- Changes in the nipple such as crusting, ulcer and inversion.
- Unusual pain that comes and goes or remains persistent.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Some of the risk factors associated with breast cancer like being a woman, getting old and genetics cannot be changed. However, other factors including overweight, smoking, consumption of alcohol can be easily controlled by making the right choices.
If you identify any breast cancer risk factors in your health, talk with your GP for advice on how to lower your risk factors and how early screenings can be helpful.
Breast Cancer Risk factors that can’t be changed
- Age: The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age. In Australia, 1 in every 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85
- Family history of breast and ovarian cancer: A woman has an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer if she has a first-degree relative including a mother, sister and daughter with breast and ovarian cancer. The risk can be increased with both her father’s and her mother’s side of the family
- Woman with a previous history of undergoing radiotherapy: Women who have undergone radiotherapy as a part of the treatment for other medical condition before the age of 30 has a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer
- Previous history of breast cancer: A woman with previous history breast cancer are more likely to be diagnosed again for the second time
Breast Cancer Risk Factors that can be changed
- Being overweight or obese
- Excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking
- Not being physically active and lack of exercise
- Low level of Vitamin D
- Taking hormones during menopause
- Eating unhealthy food
Early detection through breast cancer screenings
Breast cancer screenings involve the use of medical technologies to detect cancer before signs and symptoms of the disease. There are different screening options including breast mammograms, MRI and other biopsies to help in the detection of this disease.
Although breast screenings won’t prevent cancer, it is definitely beneficial to detect breast cancer earlier and treat it when it is easier to do so.
BreastScreen Australia is an organisation that provides free two-yearly breast screening through screening and assessment services.
BreastScreen and You provide recommendations, information on benefits and risks of screening tests when deciding if mammograms can be your best alternative.
There are many available alternative breast screenings in Brisbane, although it would be best judged by your GP on which test would best suit you.
Breast Cancer Screening Tests
Mammograms are the X-rays of the breast that can find even the minute changes in your breast health that fails to identify symptoms during a physical examination. Mammograms are an easier way to identify risks than other medical screening tests.
Undergoing regular mammogram tests is the most effective way to prevent breast cancer.
For free mammograms in Brisbane, you must be aged between 50 to 74, as this is the age group where screenings have demonstrated benefits.
This painless scan uses sound waves to generate an image of cancer developed in the breast.
Breast Magnetic Resonance Imagining
A breast MRI procedure administers radio waves to take images of the breast to detect any abnormal growth. This procedure is used only for lower-risk cases as a breast MRI can also show abnormal growth without cancer.
They are usually done alongside a mammogram.
Biopsy and other scans
During a biopsy, tissue from the breast is removed and studied under a microscope to detect any abnormal cell growth. Additional scans such as a CT scan is also used to detect cancer.
Role of a GP in breast cancer treatment
GPs are trained to provide a management plan for chronic diseases like breast cancer.
When you visit a GP with breast cancer symptoms, they will conduct an initial test that involves a physical test and asking questions about your symptoms and medical history.
They will further refer you to cancer specialists to carry out screening tests. They also provide all the necessary assistance with treatment decisions and works in a team with other specialists for your on-going treatment support.