Feel Your Boobs: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
We talk a lot about periods around here so we thought it's time switch it up and talk about #boobies this October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is fantastic that we have a specified month to talk and promote looking after our breasts but it's important that we pay attention to our breast health all year around, understanding what is normal and what to look out for.
In Australia, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after lung cancer. However, it is not only women who suffer from the disease, men do too although not as prevalent. The risk of being diagnosed with cancer by age 85 is 1 in 8 for women and 1 in 721 for men. The five year survival rate for breast cancer is 91%.
Breast cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth of the cells lining the breast lobules or ducts. These cells can grow uncontrollably and potentially spread to other parts of the body. Some people do not experience symptoms which is why it is so important to do regular checks. The cancer can be discovered via a mammogram or physical examination.
Common symptoms can include:
- New lumps or thickening in the breast or under the arm
- Nipple sores
- Nipple discharge or turning in
- Changes in the size or shape of the breasts
- Skin of the breast dimpling
- Rash or red swollen breast
Pain is rare.
Factors that can increase your risk of breast cancer:
- Increasing age
- Family history
- Exposure to female hormones
- Inheritance of mutations in the genes BRCA2, BRCA1 and CHEK2
- Being overweight
- Not enough physical activity
- Alcohol consumption
If you have a family history of breast cancer then you could be more at risk which can sound scary but it can help your doctor know what to look out for and to organise special screenings. Informing your doctor about your family history allows you to properly manage your risk.
This also includes knowing how your breasts look normally and keeping an eye out for any significant changes. You can do this by just having a quick glance in the mirror and notice if there is a sudden change in: size, texture including dimples, ridges, redness, rashes or sores as well as change to your nipples.
Going further, it is important to do self-exams which can easily be done while you're in the shower and only takes a couple of minutes.
Ensure to touch your breast from different angles with varying pressure to feel all layers of your breasts. Check from your collarbone to your armpits and breastbone as the cancer is not always isolated completely within your breasts. You should be performing self-exams at least every month and contact a health professional if any abnormalities arise. You should try to avoid self-exams when you're on your period as your hormones can cause natural changes such as tenderness and enlargement during that time of the month.
If you notice any unusual changes, book an appointment with your doctor to examine and discuss it.
Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent breast cancer from forming, and can help boost general wellbeing. Smoking, drinking coffee and alcohol can all increase the risk of developing breast cancer as well as many other illnesses as well. Getting your blood pumping with physical exercise can really make a great difference. Using all natural products and consuming fresh organic foods are important factors in promoting good health. Pesticides and herbicides used in both products and foods are linked to cancer which it's crucial that we make our cloth pads from certified organic cotton. Making sure that toxin- free soft natural fibres are in contact with the most absorbent part of your body. Your #boobies will thank you for adopting a healthier lifestyle!
For more information head to Breast Cancer Network Australia's website: https://www.bcna.org.au/