Being breast aware

Early detection of breast cancer increases the chances of successful treatment and ultimately, survival. At Breast Cancer Care WA we seek to spread the message that early detection saves lives.

We engage in awareness raising and educational activities to increase our community’s knowledge about being breast aware. Being breast aware is part of general body awareness and learning how your breasts look and feel. It is important to know what is normal for you because everyone is different and as you go through the different stages of your life, your breasts are continually changing.

How to breast check

Breast changes

If you notice any of these changes see your GP straight away.

  • A lump, lumpiness or thickening in the breast tissue or armpit.
  • Skin changes such as dimpling, puckering or redness.
  • Nipple changes such as an unusual discharge, the nipple pointing in rather than out (unless it has always been this way) or an itchy/ulcerated area.
  • A part of the breast that feels different from the rest of the breast.
  • A new and persistent pain.
  • A change in the shape/size of the breast.
signs and symptoms of breast cancer
Breast awareness at a glance
  • Find time to check your breasts regularly.
  • Look at your breasts in the mirror at the size and shape.
  • Feel your breasts in the bath or shower, lying down or when getting dressed.
  • Feel the entire breast tissue from your collarbone to below your bra line and into the underarm.
  • Feel near the surface and then deeper using the flat part of your fingers.
  • If you notice any changes, see your doctor immediately.
  • If you’re over 40, have a free screening mammogram every two years.
Breast cancer screening
  • It is important for all women aged 40 and over to have a free screening mammogram every two years. Having a mammogram can save your life.
  • A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast.
  • Mammograms detect up to 90% of breast cancers.
  • Mammograms can detect a lump as small as a grain of rice.
  • BreastScreen WA offer free screening mammograms to anyone aged 40 and over. Clinics are available in locations around the Perth metropolitan area. For women living in rural and remote areas the BreastScreen WA mobile unit visits regional towns every two years. To make an appointment for a free mammogram call BreastScreen WA on 13 20 50 or visit www.breastscreen.health.wa.gov.au. For more information about breast cancer screening call 9323 6799 or 1800 800 033.
  • Once you turn 75, you will no longer be sent a letter reminding you to attend for your two-yearly breast screen, however it is still encouraged. Read more: http://www.breastscreen.health.wa.gov.au/Breast-screening/Women-over-75 
Breast cancer screening for younger women
  • There is no evidence that regular screening by mammography for women under 40 is beneficial, but all women, should be breast aware and see their doctor without delay if any changes are noticed.
  • Whilst women aged from 50 to 74 are the target group for regular mammograms, women aged 40–49 years are eligible for free two-yearly screening mammograms through the BreastScreen Australia Program.
  • Mammographic screening is not recommended for women younger than 40 years of age as their breast tissue is too dense to detect breast changes accurately using this method. If a woman in this age group is concerned about breast changes, a doctor may still recommend a mammogram but will probably also arrange an Ultrasound. A referral to a medical imaging service is needed for this. A GP can provide this referral.
  • Family history: http://www.breastscreen.health.wa.gov.au/Breast-health/Family-history-of-breast-cancer
  • See your GP to discuss high risk clinics, familiar cancer clinics and genetic services. Some women under 50 may be eligible for MRI. See more here: http://www.kemh.health.wa.gov.au/services/genetics/