Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. Symptoms may include a lump in the breast, discharge from the nipple or changes in the appearance of the breast or nipple.
Learn more about breast cancer, including the risk factors, breast self-checks and cancer screening.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer risk factors
Breast self-checks and cancer screening
Breast cancer screening
Breast cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the breast. There are different types of breast cancer, but they all start in the milk ducts or milk-producing glands. The cancer may grow into surrounding tissue and spread to other organs in the body.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in Australia. About one woman in every eight is diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85. But many more women in Australia die of heart disease and stroke compared with breast cancer.
You can’t change many of the risk factors for breast cancer. For example:
It’s important to note that having risk factors doesn’t mean you will get breast cancer.
Around 90% to 95% of breast cancers have nothing to do with family history. The other 5% to 10% occur in people who have inherited a faulty gene.
There are other risk factors associated with breast cancer. For example:
Trans women who take medicine to lower male hormones and increase female hormones may be at increased risk of breast cancer compared to cis men.
You can read more about the risk factors by visiting the following websites:
You can also learn about your individual risk by using the risk calculator on the iPrevent page of the Peter Mac website. If you are concerned about your risk of breast cancer, talk to your doctor.
It’s important to be ‘breast aware’. Know how your breasts look and feel so you can act quickly if you notice any changes.
Look at and feel your breasts regularly. You can do this in the shower, when you use body lotion, or in front of the mirror. Check all parts of your breasts including your armpits and the area up to your collarbone.
As breasts can feel different before and after your period, it’s a good idea to know what’s normal during these times. Knowing your breasts makes it easier to notice changes.
Changes you should look for include:
You should also look for:
If you notice anything that’s not normal for you, see your doctor as soon as possible. Most changes are not related to cancer, but it’s important to make sure. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome.
Breast cancer screening is a safe X-ray of your breasts that can sometimes show cancer before there are any signs or symptoms. Breast screening is also called a ‘mammogram’.
Breast screening aims to find cancer while it’s still small and confined to the breast. Early detection gives you the best chance of effective treatment.
Learn more about breast cancer screening.
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