October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in New Zealand and the third most common cancer overall – but early detection and being breast aware can save lives.
Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand’s vision is that one day no one will die from this form of cancer. We got in touch with the Foundation to discuss what women need to know for breast awareness.
Here are four things to know to take care of your breasts – you can remember these with the acronym BRAS!
1. Breast awareness – be breast aware from age 20
Young women get breast cancer too. If you’re 20 or older make sure you know the look and feel of your own breasts so you can self-check and spot anything unusual. Breast Cancer Foundation calls this TLC (touch, look and check). Check out their video on how to perform a self-check here.
2. Reduce your risk – drink less alcohol, keep active and maintain a healthy body weight
3. Act on breast changes – show your doctor any unusual changes
Breasts do change and most of the time these aren’t cancerous. But it’s very important to show your doctor any unusual changes, or anything you’re not sure about. Always be alert for lumps, skin changes, thickened tissue, nipple changes, changes in breast shape and unusual pain that won’t go away. If you experience any of these, show your doctor. Find out more.
4. Screening mammograms – if you’re 40 or older book regular mammograms
Early detection can make a huge difference. Women have a 92% chance of surviving breast cancer for ten years or longer where the cancer is detected by a mammogram. Breast Cancer Foundation recommends starting mammograms at 40. Find out more.