Breast cancer awareness month

As published in La Fiamma, L’Angolo Della Terza Eta 21 October 2013

Breast cancer awareness month

When Alba noticed a lump on her breast she initially ignored it. When the lump grew larger and she started to feel pain in the breast, she decided it was time to face her fears and visit her local doctor.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, symbolised by a pink ribbon.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women and the majority of cases are diagnosed in women aged 40–69. Survival rates continue to improve in Australia, with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving five or more years after diagnosis.

On Monday 22 October, Cancer Australia will hold its annual Pink Ribbon Breakfast on Pink Ribbon Day. The theme for this year’s event is – Staying well after breast cancer.

Many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are concerned about whether their cancer will come back. There is growing evidence that lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring. These lifestyle changes include: limiting or avoiding alcohol, being physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight.

As women get older, their risk of breast cancer increases. Although breast cancer occurs in younger women, in general, breast cancer is a disease of ageing.

The vast majority of breast cancers are diagnosed among postmenopausal women; about 3 out of 4 of breast cancer cases occur in women 50 years and over.

Changes to look for

Many breast cancers are found by a woman or her doctor after noticing a change in the breast. See your doctor straight away if you feel or see any of the following:

  •  A lump, lumpiness or thickening in the breast or armpit.
  • Changes in the skin – dimpling, puckering or redness.
  • Changes in the nipple – pointing in rather than out (unless it has always been this way), a change in direction or an unusual discharge.
  • An area that feels different from the rest.
  • Unusual pain.

Nine out of 10 breast changes are not breast cancer; however, it is important to have any changes checked out straight away by your doctor.

 Breast cancer screening

Breast screening is the best way to find breast cancer before it can be felt or noticeable symptoms develop. In Australia, all women aged 50 to 69 are invited to have a free screening mammogram (breast X-ray) at BreastScreen Australia every two years. It is the best early detection tool we have for reducing deaths from breast cancer.

Screening mammograms can find most breast cancers present at the time of screening but like all medical screening tests, mammograms are not perfect. Women should make an informed, personal choice about participating in screening. If you are unsure about your risk of breast cancer or whether breast screening mammograms should be a priority, you should speak to your doctor.

You can book an appointment with BreastScreen Australia by calling 13 20 50 or visit www.breastscreen.org.au for more information.

 You can also ring the Multilingual Cancer Information Line. To speak confidentially with an oncology nurse in your own language through an interpreter, follow these guidelines:
1. Call the Translating and Interpreting Service  (TIS) on 13 14 50, from Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 17.00.
2. Say your language: Italian.
3. Wait on line for an interpreter (this may take up to 3 minutes).
4. Ask the interpreter to call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.
5. You will be put in touch with an interpreter and an oncology nurse.

More information in Italian is available from www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/other_languages/Italian/ITALBreastaware.pdf

The Cancer Council NSW also provides information in Italian. Go to http://languages.cancercouncil.com.au/it/.

For more information about services that you may be eligible for, please ring the Intake Officer at Co.As.It. on 9564 0744. For enquiries or feedback about this article please contact Aged Care Service Improvement Coordinators, Lucy Merrett or Pina Leyland, on 9564 0744 or email lucy.merrett@coasit.org.au or pina.leyland@coasit.org.au. For the region of Wollongong please contact ItSoWel on (02) 4228 8222.

Breast cancer awareness month in Italian