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Ladies, are you breast aware?

Two melons in a lacey bra
Whatever you call them - melons, boobs, 'the girls' - it's important you're aware what your breasts normally look and feel like.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women and it is estimated that over 18,000 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed amongst Australian women in 2018. It’s important for all women to be breast aware and know the possible signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

Not sure what you should be looking out for when it comes to your breast health? We’ve got the lowdown on being breast aware and the things you can do to promote breast health.

Getting familiar with your breasts: be breast aware

Being breast aware is important for women of all ages. This means knowing the normal look and feel of your breasts, including the tissue above and below the breast and across into the armpit.

Remember that your breasts may look and feel different throughout your menstrual cycle, so it’s important to get familiar with how your breasts normally change throughout the month.

Keep an eye out for any of the following changes to your breasts, which may appear in one or both breasts:

  • any new lumps or lumpiness
  • a change in the size of your breasts, the shape or how they sit
  • a difference in your nipples like crusting, an ulcer, discharge that happens without squeezing the nipple or redness
  • a newly ‘inverted’ nipple, meaning the nipple is pulled backwards into the breast
  • redness, dimpling or puckered skin on your breast
  • a pain that doesn’t go away.

It can be concerning when you notice a change in your breast. Keep in mind that just because you’ve noticed a change in your breasts, this doesn’t always point to breast cancer. Most of the time, there will be a different reason for a change you have noticed. However, it is important that if you notice any of these changes, or any other unusual changes in your breasts, you see your doctor immediately, so they can rule out breast cancer and ease your mind.

Maintain general health

Keeping healthy by maintaining a healthy weightbeing physically activeeating healthy foods, limiting alcohol and not smoking can help reduce your breast cancer risk.

Participate in breast cancer screening

It is recommended that Queensland women aged 50 to 74 years participate in BreastScreen Queensland’s free breast screening program every two years.

A breast screen (you might know it by the term ‘mammogram’) is an x-ray that can pick up small changes in breast tissue. A breast screen can pick up changes in your breast that are too small to feel or see yourself, which means it can help catch breast cancer in early stages.

You can read more about breast screening in Queensland and book your next appointment on the BreastScreen Queensland website.

Separate fact from fiction

There are a number of common myths about breast cancer that have not been proven true. Women should not worry that wearing an underwire bra or being bumped on the breast will cause breast cancer.

What if I have a family history of breast cancer?

If you have a family history of breast cancer, which usually means that more than one close blood relative on the same side of the family have had cancer, talk to your doctor about breast screening and what is best for your individual situation.

What if I have breast implants?

Women of any age who have breast implants or who have had breast reduction surgery should still practice breast awareness and be aware of the normal look and feel of their breasts. Women with breast implants can also participate in breast screening.

What about men?

While it’s much rarer than in women, men can also have breast cancer. It’s important that men, too, are aware of the normal look and feel of their breasts and see their doctor know if they notice any unusual changes.

See your doctor about any concerns

If you are concerned about your breast health for any reason or are experiencing any worry or anxiety about breast cancer, make an appointment to talk about it with your doctor.

More information

Breast cancer screening and prevention

Last updated: 18 October 2018