October has gone pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, while figures from the Cancer Institute NSW show that 19,300 women nationally will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019.
Breast cancer can affect both women and men. While breast cancer in men is rare and accounts for 1 per-cent of cancer in men, more than 144 men in Australia will be diagnosed.
Regular mammograms for women over the age of 50 and self checks for both women and men can help save lives.
However almost half of women aged 50-74 are not getting their recommended two yearly mammograms.
Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow explained that around 60 per cent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women aged 50-74.
"Our research shows that a lot of women believe that breast cancer will never happen to them," Professor Currow said.
"We want women particularly those between the ages of 50 and 74 to be aware that breast cancer can happen to them.
"By detecting breast cancer early, breast screening not only saves lives but also reduces the likelihood of a woman needing invasive treatment, such as a mastectomy or chemotherapy.
"We have come a long way with cancer treatment but the reality is still that the more extensive the cancer is, the more it can diminish quality of life."
BreastScreen NSW is encouraging women to get together with a friend to book a mammogram in Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
South Western Sydney Local Health District BreastScreen NSW, Clinical Director, Dr Patsy Soon, said that by taking the time to talk to a friend about screening and arranging to go for a mammogram together, you could not only save her life, but your own.
"We know there are many reasons why women might be missing their recommended mammogram - they are nervous about going, or nervous about the results," Dr Soon said.
"By encouraging a friend to go with them women can ensure that making the appointment becomes a priority. It also means that they will have someone to support them on the day."
An appointment with BreastScreen NSW is free and takes about 20 minutes. There is a BreastScreen at Bowral Street Specialist Centre Suite 4/70 Bowral St, Bowral.
How to self check at home according to the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA):
- Become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts.
- Check all parts of your breast, your armpits and up to your collarbone with the palm of your hand.
- Be aware of any changes that are different for you.
Signs and Symptoms:
- A new lump in your breast or underarm
- Irritation or dimpling of your breast skin
- Any change in the size or the shape of your breast
- Pain in any area of your breast
Remember, see a doctor straight away if you notice or feel any changes to your breast tissue, underarms or collarbone.
Read Also: Most men unaware of breast cancer danger