Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers that women – both young and old – have to deal with these days.
Breast cancer is often thought of as a disease of ageing. This is because more than 70 per cent of cases occur in women over 50. However it is not unknown for this horrible disease to strike women under 35. Rates of breast cancer are lower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women than in non-Aboriginal women, but the death rates are still apparent within Indigenous communities.
Breast cancer is not just a ‘white woman’s disease’. This has led to the misapprehension among many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women that breast cancer won’t affect them. But that’s not true. Breast cancer is modern day ‘women’s business’.
It is important to make use of and take part in early detection programs provided by local Aboriginal and other medical services.
The three golden rules of early detection
1. Examine your own breasts at the same time each month and note any changes.
2. Have your breasts examined as part of your annual health check.
3. Visit your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical service and talk to your doctor about the FREE BreastScreen Australia program for women over 50 years.
Don’t be embarrassed to check your breasts! You can do it in the shower or in the bath, and it could save your life.
You or your doctor may find changes such as:
* A lump or lumps
* Any change in breast shape or dimpling of the skin
* An area that feels different to the rest of the breast
* Any discharge from the nipple
* Any pain or indentation of the nipple itself.
However, breast changes do not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. This is why it is so important to perform regular checks and remember the three golden rules of early detection.
If you would feel more comfortable seeing a female doctor about this women’s business, then just ask.
Remember you don’t have to go it alone, there is help and support out there for you!