Every year in October, we see an array of pink awareness efforts everywhere as a reminder for breast cancer prevention. This yearly event is a reminder of how important it is for all women to know what they can do to help detect breast cancer early in their life.
Being aware of your breast health is a good thing. Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness in our community and educate ourselves on the health impact of breast cancer and taking the personal responsibility of visiting GPs for regular breast screenings.
Awareness of breast cancer, its risks, signs and symptoms are crucial for breast cancer prevention. The more we know about this disease, the better are the chances of detecting cancer in its early stages when treatment is much easier and more successful.
Breast cancer is a major public health issue in Australia. Every year, thousands of Australians are diagnosed with breast cancer and the numbers have been growing constantly over the years.
“The more we know about the diseases, the better are the chances of detecting cancer in its early stages when treatment is easy and successful.”
Let’s learn more about breast cancer in Australia.
A snapshot of breast cancer in Australia
- According to Breast Cancer Network Australia, it is estimated that over 20,000 Australians would be diagnosed with breast cancer, which is an average of 55 people every single day.
- Although the number of breast cancer deaths has reduced over the years, the number of Australian women and men being diagnosed with breast cancer has been increasing.
- Australia also has one of the world’s best breast cancer survival rate, that has been possible due to early detection and free breast screenings programs for eligible patients, conducted by BreastScreen Australia.
- The average age for breast cancer diagnosis for Australian women is 62 years with about 79% of new cancer diagnosis seen among women in their 50s and more.
- The out-of-pocket cost for breast cancer treatment is a real sucker punch for Australians, ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars that make breast cancer treatment one of the most expensive treatments in the world.
Risk factors of breast cancer
The most common risk factors for breast cancer include being a woman and growing old. There is a combination of risk factors including factors that can be controlled and some other factors such as a family history of breast cancer as well as aging that remains unavoidable.
However, you should also know that having a risk factor won’t necessarily cause breast cancer but it is important to seek help from breast screening doctors like Northside Health to proactively participate in breast screenings for early detection.
Know your breast cancer risk factors
Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer are at an increased risk, especially when anyone from their first-degree family was previously diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50.
Age is another important and determinant factor to increase the chances of breast cancer. Two out of three invasive breast cancer diagnoses are seen in women above the age of 55.
Personal health history of being diagnosed with breast cancer puts you at an increased risk of diagnosis again in the future.
Having dense breast tissue can also increase your chances of suffering from breast cancer as dense tissue makes it difficult to detection of lumps. Therefore, it is important to ask your GP what implications it might have on your breast health.
Certain lifestyle choices like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and living a sedentary lifestyle with little to no physical activities can increase your risk of breast cancer.
Radiation therapy as a part of your previous treatment also puts you at a higher risk of breast cancer.
Breast cancer prevention starts with undergoing breast screenings like mammograms and further use of ultrasound if required.
If you’re concerned with your breast health, you should seek a doctor’s advice to start with.
Regular breast cancer screenings will detect cancer even when you don’t have any signs and symptoms. Doctors can also perform a risk assessment and proactively help lower your risks.
In addition to breast screenings, you can also reduce your risks by:
- Limiting your alcohol and tobacco consumption
- Leading a physically active life that keeps you in a healthy weight
- Reduce consumption of sugar, high cholesterol and fatty foods.
- See alternative options from hormone therapy after menopause
- Be aware of changes in your breast health and immediately report to a GP, if you recognise any symptoms.
Early detection through mammograms in Coffs Harbour
At Northside Health, we offer comprehensive breast screenings regularly.
We encourage all women from Coffs Harbour to seek help from GPs and undergo mammograms regularly.
A mammogram is an X-ray of your breast that is used to effectively identify any changes in your breast health which is difficult to recognise in a physical assessment.
We provide both screening and diagnostic mammograms which usually take less than 10 minutes to execute.
We recommend all women between the age of 50 and 74 to under breast screenings regularly.