When it comes to your health, it’s important to have the right information and the right professional guidance at hand. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia – 55 Australians are diagnosed every day, so it’s important we have the facts to minimise the risk to ourselves and to our loved ones.
Breast cancer in young women
Although it’s relatively uncommon, two women under 40 years will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day. The best method for early detection is still breast awareness. While some changes are normal, more aggressive types of breast cancer are more common in younger women. For this reason, Cancer Australia recommends visiting your doctor without delay if you notice any unusual changes.
Breast cancer and family history
Having breast cancer as part of your family history means you have a first-degree relative who has or has had a breast cancer diagnosis. Sometimes there is a specific genetic variation or mutation inherited from a parent that can increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer, however only about 5-10% of breast cancer cases are explained by inherited mutation.
On occasion gene mutations can be inherited from a parent and in other cases a combination of genes may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. The good news is that there are genetic tests available to help you determine if you carry these genes and in combination with being breast aware and regular screening you can reduce your risk.
Breast cancer and men
The rate of breast cancer in men is much lower than that in women with only 1 in every 675 being diagnosed in their lifetime and the majority of those diagnosed are over 50. It’s still important to remember that men have breast tissue and therefore it’s possible to develop breast cancer.
Symptoms are similar to those that present in women and include pain, lumps, unexplained changes and discharge. Common risk factors include age and a strong family history, especially if familiar links have been associated with the BRCA2 gene.
Where to find out more.
The good news is that since 1994 when the National Breast Cancer Foundation began fundraising the five-year survival rate for breast cancer has jumped from 76% to 91% and can be as high as 96% if detected while limited to the breast.
If you want to learn more about how to check for signs and symptoms, prevention and risks and more, check out the National Breast Cancer Foundation website. Remember it’s your body and you know it best; if you feel like something isn’t right make an appointment with your Doctor or health professional.