What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a collection of cells in the breast tissue that grow in an uncontrolled way. There are several types of breast cancer, depending on where the cancer is within the breast, or if it has spread to an area outside the breast.

What are my chances of getting breast cancer?

  • 1 in 7 women in NSW will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Risk factors for breast cancer are being female and getting older.
  • Other risk factors include genetic risk factors such as a family history of breast cancer of other cancers and lifestyle factors such as being overweight, increased alcohol consumption and smoking tobacco.
  • Over 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50.
  • 9 out of 10 women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer.

How will I know I have it?

Be breast aware - it's important to 'get to know' the normal look and feel of your breasts, so that if there are changes in your breasts you can identify these. Signs to look for are:

  • Size of shape change in your breast nipple
  • Discharge (without squeezing the breast)
  • Nipple changes (crusting, ulcer, redness, inversion)
  • Redness or dimpling on breast skin lumps or lumpiness in your breasts (especially if only in one breast)
  • Unusual pain in breast or armpit that does not go away.

If you have any of these signs, talk to a nurse at your health centre and ask to get a breast check and be shown how to check your own breasts.

breast cancer signs.JPG

Being breast aware

Use these tips to check your own breasts:

  • Use a mirror to become familiar with the usual look and shape of your breasts.
  • Become familiar with the normal feel of your breasts at different times throughout the month.
  • Examples of when you can do this is in the shower, in front of a mirror, lying in bed or getting dressed.

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Is there a test?

  • A breast screen, known as a mammogram, is an x-ray of the breasts.
  • Mammograms can detect very small breast cancers before they can be seen or felt.
  • The best way to find breast cancer early in women aged 50-74 is to have a breast screen.
  • If you're aged 50-74, you should still have your regular screening mammogram in addition to checking your breasts - even if you feel ok and don't have any symptoms.
  • If you are aged 40-49 and over 75, talk to a nurse in the health centre about getting a breast screen.

Looking after your health on the inside

  • Move more - try walking with a friend or playing a game.
  • Exercise or train with a friend like your cellie. It's a good way to help each other get healthy and stay healthy.
  • Eat more fruit and veg - check the buy-ups list and look for the OK sign.
  • Cut down on sugar, salt and fat in what you eat and drink.
  • Make water your main drink.
  • Stay Quit smoking or cut down.
  • Aim for a waist measurement of no more than 88cm.
  • Set some health goals for yourself each week.