A new diagnosis of breast cancer can come as a complete shock. There may have been no signs or symptoms and no known family history.
Unfortunately, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women with 1 in 9 Australians receiving this devastating news. Over 15,000 women are diagnosed each year.
With this type of cancer touching so many people, it is important to remember that a breast cancer diagnosis does not necessarily mean a death sentence. In fact, most women do survive and go on to live long and healthy lives. According to the latest statistics, the 5-year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer is more than 89 per cent.
Breast cancer doesn't just affect women. Whilst rare, men too can receive a breast cancer diagnosis.
It is important to know the early signs of breast cancer and these can sometimes be detected during regular self-examinations. If you notice any of the following changes to your breasts you should see your GP without delay;
Mammograms are also a vital tool in the detection of breast cancer. You may have no known symptoms, however a quick (yet uncomfortable) mammogram can detect a lump, or change, in your breast tissue.
If a change or lump is detected, your doctor will perform a triple test including a breast examination by a Breast Specialist, ultrasound and mammogram and a breast biopsy. This series of tests will confirm if the change is due to cancer. Nine out of ten breast changes aren't due to cancer, but it's important to see a doctor to be sure.
It is difficult to pinpoint why some women get breast cancer and others don't. There are some risk factors which may increase your risk of developing breast cancer, but having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you will definitely develop breast cancer.
Known risk factors include:
If you have any concerns you should see your local GP without delay. Your GP is your first port of call and he/she will either request some further testing or refer you to a Breast Specialist who will take over your care.
Early detection is vital in the fight against breast cancer, so knowing what is normal for your breasts and how to perform self examinations is so important. We will be covering both these topics in part 2 of this blog.
If you require an appointment with a Breast Specialist, simply CLICK HERE to begin your search.