Breast Screening, Breast Lumps and Breast Cancer Support
The breasts are a complex structure of fat, connective tissue, ducts, lobes and lymph nodes which are highly sensitive to hormonal changes in the body. From pre-puberty through to post menopause, changes are frequent in the breasts most noticeably bought on by the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
No two breasts are the same and with the size, shape, levels of sensitivity, soreness and lumps varying from woman to woman, and indeed from left to right; it’s essential that females of all ages get to know their breasts from a young age Familiarity with the regular changes in your breasts that arise from self-checking will ensure that any illness or problems are detected early which offers a higher level of success for any treatment plan.
During breastfeeding, the breast tissue becomes firm making your breasts much larger than they were pre-pregnancy. They are also more likely to become sore and uncomfortable, particularly when you first start breastfeeding. Once you stop breastfeeding, your breasts may or may not return to their pre-pregnancy size and shape, and while both are normal, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your GP if you have any concerns about the changes in your breasts during and after breastfeeding.
It’s essential that you’re aware of the normal appearance of your breasts. If you notice a change in your breasts that concerns you for instance a lump, thickening, or discharge, please make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. Breast lumps should be physically examined by your GP and referred for further investigation if needed. Lumps and thickening can be hormonal or benign, but it’s essential to have them checked as soon as possible to rule out cancer.
The QLD breast screening program is a service for women to assist with the early detection of breast cancer. Screening is available for women aged 40-74 and is recommended every two years. You can contact http://www.breastscreen.qld.gov.au directly and no referral is necessary.
Breast cancer is diagnosed from a biopsy of a lump taken from the breast. Lumps are either detected by a physical examination, or during a routine mammogram. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the success rate of a treatment plan so it’s important that you check your breasts regularly and that women over 50-years-old (40 if there’s a history of breast cancer in the family) have routine mammograms. Cancer can often be unnoticeable for quite some time before a lump appears so regular testing for those at risk could be lifesaving.
If you have any concerns about your breasts, particularly if you notice a lump, it’s essential to have it checked by your GP as soon as possible.