Be abreast of changes this October

Be abreast of changes this October.

Being breast aware and knowing what to look for could help find breast cancer early, which means there are more treatment options and the chances of survival are greatest.

This article was written by Eliza Wynn and was published by the Avon Valley and Wheatbelt Advocate on 22 October 2018.

Breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among WA women – and the second highest cause of death.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts more than 18,000 people in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Of this, 99.2-percent will be women and 0.8 percent will be men.

“WA women have a one in 10 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 75,” Ms Pickering said.

In 2014 alone, 249 West Australian women died from breast cancer.

Ms Pickering said women from regional WA were particularly likely to delay going to the doctor when they were experiencing symptoms, with patients often experiencing self-doubt about the existence of the symptom.

“If you’re unsure about a possible symptom you should make an appointment to discuss the change with your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker without delay, particularly if it’s been more than four weeks since you first noticed the change,” she said.

“Despite countless numbers of women knowing someone affected by breast cancer, many are still unsure of the early symptoms of the disease.

“Being breast aware and knowing what to look for could help find breast cancer early, which means there are more treatment options and the chances of survival are greatest.”

The symptoms you should be looking for include new persistent pain or discomfort, a change in the shape, size or feel of your breasts, or any lumps or lumpiness either in the breast or under  your arm.

“Any skin changes are important to report, too – redness or puckering, or dimpling of the breast.

“And of course any changes in the position of the nipple or nipple discharge may be important.”

Ms Pickering said that many women still believed they can only be affected by breast cancer if there is an existing family history of the disease.

“It’s a common misconception that to develop breast cancer there has to be  a running history of it in your family but this ins’t the case,” she said.

“Most women who develop breast cancer don’t have a family history. That’s why it’s so important to know your body and what’s normal for you.

“Be breast aware in the shower, when getting dressed, looking in the mirror, putting on body lotion, lying down in bed.

“You don’t have to be an expert or use a special technique.

“There are a number of lifestyle risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing breast cancer.

“These include being overweight or obese, not doing enough physical activity, a poor diet, and drinking alcohol.

“These are all risk factors and we can do something about it.

“Thanks to research and advances in early detection, screening and prevention, more than 90=percent of women with breast cancer are alive five years after diagnosis.

“It’s also important to remember that a free breast screening service is available through BreastScreen WA.

“Screening mammograms are performed on women 40 years or over with no breast symptoms every two year, for the purpose of detecting breast cancer at an early stage before it can be felt or noticed.”

The BreastScreen mobile service will be in Narrogin on October 24 to November 26 and Wongan Hills on October 20 to November 8.

During the month of October, Cancer Council WA is encouraging all West Australian women to get together with their girlfriends and raise awareness of breast cancer and raise much needed funds for research and support for women affectred by breast and gynaecological cancer.

To host a Girls’ Night In fundraiser with your girlfriends this month, register at

For more information about breast cancer and how to identify the symptoms, visit

Visit the Avon Valley and Wheatbelt Advocate website here