October is Australia's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Cancer Council's Pink Ribbon campaign aims to raise awareness about breast and gynaecological cancers, as well as raise funds for prevention programs, support services and vital cancer research.
Every day in Australia around 50 women are diagnosed with breast or a gynaecological cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia (apart from non-melanoma skin cancer) and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer.
Although one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by age 85, a woman diagnosed today has a 90 per cent chance of surviving for at least five years.
Symptoms of breast cancer vary. Some people have no symptoms and the cancer is found during a screening mammogram or a physical examination by a doctor.
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If you do have symptoms, they could include:
- new lumps or thickening in the breast or under the arm
- nipple sores
- nipple discharge or turning in
- skin of the breast dimpling
- rash or red swollen breasts.
Pain is rare.
Some factors that increase your risk of breast cancer include:
- increasing age
- family history
- inheritance of mutations in the genes BRCA2, BRCA1 and CHEK2
- exposure to female hormones (natural and administered)
- a previous breast cancer diagnosis
- a past history of certain non-cancerous breast conditions
Lifestyle factors can also slightly increase the risk.
Women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.
Women aged 40 - 49 and 75 and over are also eligible to receive free mammograms, however do not receive an invitation to attend.
It is recommended that women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, aged between 40 and 49 or over 75 discuss options with their GP, or contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50.
Gynaecological cancers include ovarian, cervical, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancer.
Pink Ribbon Month strives to unite people in pink to help Cancer Council beat women's cancers, whether it be fundraising or hosting a pink event.
Whether it's fundraising or hosting a pink event, wearing pink or getting active in pink, Cancer Council is asking everyone to unite in pink to help beat women's cancers.
For more information, visit www.cancercouncilfundraising.com.au/pink-ribbon.