October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and with BreastScreen temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, women and men are reminded to check for any changes.
One in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, while figures from the Breast Cancer Network Australia show that 19,886 women and 164 men will be diagnosed with a form of breast cancer in 2021.
That is roughly 55 people a day.
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 160 men in Australia will be diagnosed.
According to the data from Cancer Australia, 34 men died from breast cancer while more than 3000 women died from the disease.
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.
Former Chief Cancer Officer and former CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow previously 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."
With BreastScreen NSW gradually reopening, women and men should be aware of any changes and see a doctor to organise a scan if changes occur.
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.