Breast cancer develops in roughly one in eight women in Australia by the age of 85. It is more likely to be diagnosed in older women, or those who are overweight, excess alcohol or tobacco, have breast cancer in the family, of have not had children. Early detection of breast cancer means that women have a much greater chance of being treated successfully and in most cases the cancer will not return after the treatment. You are entitled to a free mammogram from the age of 40.
Getting to know your breasts
Younger people are less likely to develop breast cancer, however the Cancer Council Australia recommends to get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts, and those of your partners!
This means being aware of the usual changes. Breasts are less lumpy directly after a period, and after menopause. One week after your period ends is a good time for a self-examination which can be part of your daily routine. This can be as simple as getting to know the look and feel of your breasts during your daily activities such as when dressing, showering, applying cream or looking at the mirror.
Less than 5% of all breast cancer cases are caused by an inherited gene fault. If you are concerned, visit your GP to assess your risk using Cancer Australia’s online familial risk assessment tool.
It may also be appropriate for some women with strong family history of breast cancer to be referred to a family cancer clinic which can provide a more precise risk assessment, genetic testing advice and an individualised management plan.