Did you know 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85?
Breast cancer - it’s something as women we probably don’t often talk about, but unfortunately it’s likely in our lifetime someone we love will be affected by it. Whether a mother, sister, daughter, friend, aunty, family friend, cousin, acquaintance, colleague, breast cancer does not discriminate and sadly it’s more prevalent than ever.
Currently in 2018 alone, it’s estimated 18,087 women will have been diagnosed with breast cancer - that’s 49 women a day and one in every eight women, according to Cancer Australia and the Australian Breast Cancer Research.
Scary huh? As two female founders of Francesca, who work with inspiring women and for an amazing community of women every day, we believe it’s so important to share the facts, educate women and do our part towards serving women with as much wisdom, love, care and information as we can. As the saying goes: ‘knowledge is power,’ and we want you to be well equipped to know the ‘breast cancer basics’ and why you should learn to love your boobs.
Through learning key preventions, the importance of early detection and the support that’s available (alongside helping women who are currently suffering) we believe we can make a difference in creating a nurturing space for women to feel empowered and proactive towards their breast health.
So to best support you, we’ve compiled a breast cancer fact sheet with super useful, credible and up to date information to keep your breasts (/boobs!) in check.
- 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.
- The number of people being diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia is increasing; however the number of deaths from breast cancer is decreasing.
- The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.
types of breast cancer:
You may not know, but there are actually several types of breast cancer and sub-types within that. Which means it’s not a simple diagnosis, each type has different risks, treatments and potential outcomes. To keep it simple, there are two main categories: ‘Non-invasive breast cancers’ and ‘Invasive breast cancers.’
Non-invasive breast cancers (also called carcinoma) refer to the cancer being contained within the milk ducts or lobules in the breast. They have not grown into the normal breast tissue and are often thought of as pre-cancers. There are two main types - Ductal carcinoma in situ
And Lobular carcinoma in situ.
Invasive breast cancers are cancers growing in the normal, healthy breast tissue and there is eight main types in total. To understand more, we recommend the Breast Cancer Network of Australia’s full guide.
how to check your breasts:
Firstly, how often do you consciously look or feel your breasts? Sounds a little strange but if you don’t know how they are, you may not pick up any changes.
While it might seem a little weird or uncomfortable, begin by being more aware of your body and breasts. Maybe in the shower use the opportunity to do a self examination and as you get out of the shower, take a glimpse in the mirror to note how they are.
Note: all women’s breasts look and feel different, it starts with learning what your ‘normal’ is. When you have an awareness of your body (and more importantly breasts!) you can be faster at detecting changes or abnormalities.
The key thing is, check all parts of the breast including the armpits and all the way up to collarbone. If something feels different, strange, a little off, check our symptoms guide below and also consult your GP asap or a support network (see our ‘how to seek support’ section below).
You might think it’s only a matter of detecting a lump, but in some cases no symptoms appear so it’s important to do a regular self-check and see your GP each year. Outside of that, there can be a range of additional symptoms that may raise flags. According to Cancer Council Australia, these can include:
- Thickening of skin or lumps in the breast or under the arm
- Sores on or around the nipple
- Discharge from the nipple
- Change in size or shape of breast
- Nipple turning inwards
- Dimples appearing in skin of the breast
- Rash or red/swollen breasts
how to seek support:
Whether you have detected a lump, are worried about a symptom or fall into the category of a family history of breast cancer (or are above the age of 40), it’s so important to make your concerns known and confide in a trusted support network. That network should be inclusive not only of loved ones who can be there for you emotionally, but more importantly than not, should include a trusted GP and/or Breast Cancer specialists.
While talking to your doctor is the best thing to do immediately, we also recommend the following:
- Cancer Council Australia:
- Breast Cancer Network of Australia
- BreastScreen Service
- McGrath Foundation:
- Breast Cancer Care WA
- Pink Hope
how to support others:
Being a shoulder to cry on, a support to lean on and just generally being present, listening and showing kindness is more powerful than you can imagine - really! A study from Stanford University found those who were shown kindness while in medical care had a reduction in pain, anxiety, blood pressure, as well as experiencing shorter hospital stays and quicker healing time. So please know, kindness really is everything.
For those who don’t know anyone affected but wish to show support in another way, donating to a breast cancer charity to help raise much needed funds towards cancer prevention research also will go along way. We recommend either purchasing a pink ribbon through the Cancer Council or for a beautiful handmade touch perhaps a argonite bracelet from Francesca to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation ( $20 from every sale goes directly to NBCF).
tips for breast cancer prevention:
As the saying goes, ‘prevention is the best cure,’ so if you’re wanting to be proactive and give yourself the best shot at a long healthy life, the Cancer Council recommends the following…
- maintain a healthy weight
- reduce alcohol intake
- cut cigarettes
- eat a balanced diet
other studies also suggest...