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Four things every woman should know for breast health 

8 October 2019

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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

There’s no definite way to prevent breast cancer and there are risk factors that can’t be changed (like getting older, breast density and having a family history of breast cancer). However, there are a few risk factors that you can take into your own hands. Making healthy lifestyle choices, reducing alcohol consumption, keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight, may reduce your chance of developing breast cancer. And, of course, when you make these choices there are other physical and mental health benefits too! Find out more.  

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.

For more information about breast awareness, taking care of your breasts, breast cancer and breast cancer support, visit the Breast Cancer Foundation website.

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