Blog & News

Back to posts

October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is one of the most well known types of cancer, and October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so what better time to look at the stats, and determined exactly what we need to do to take better care of our breasts.

Nearly 16,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year; more than 200,000 Australians currently live with the disease1, and most of us are likely to know of someone who has, or had the disease.

However, a recent survey from the McGrath foundation has found only 15 percent of those surveyed showed good breast health understanding, while 75 percent thought they had good understanding of breast health.

There are 6 key risk factors for development of breast cancer; being female, strong family history of breast cancer, age, alcohol consumption and early menstruation, or late menopause. There are four criteria that make up the Breast Health Index, being awareness, confidence, knowledge and behaviour2. Only 10% of survey respondents were able to correctly identify the six risk factors, and 15% fulfilled the four criteria.

So what do you need to do, and need to know, to improve your own breast health index?

At present, breast cancer accounts for 15.5% of all cancer deaths in Australian women, and is currently the second leading cause of cancer death3. According to a new report from the McGrath Foundation, Australian women perceive their knowledge of breast care to be good, however the reality is, our knowledge is not as good as we think it is. Only 10% of survey respondents were able to correctly identify the six risk factors, and 15% fulfilled the four criteria in the recent survey by the McGrath Foundation4.

Improving knowledge is a main area for improvement. The key risk factors to be aware of are gender (being a woman), growing older, family history of breast cancer, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and either starting menstruating early, or menopause late. Myths of risk factors, so things that do not impact on development of breast cancer include using deodorant, wearing an underwire bra, or sleeping in a bra, topless sunbathing, and having larger breasts (among others).

Behaviour is the other key area for improvement; it is recommended to check breasts once a month. The proportion of women who regularly check their breasts is largely consistent across age groups and geographies. Women with daughters aged 10-19 were most likely to check regularly2.

How often do you check your breasts, or how often do your loved ones check theirs? Is it something you ever talk about?

The survey results also found that more conversations need to be had about breast health. Whilst there has been a significant shift towards talking about breast health. There are key differences in how women learn about it; older women are likely to have learnt about it from their health care professional, women aged 20-40 through the media, whilst younger women (16-19) are likely to have learnt from their mothers. Moving forward, having these conversations with our daughters is essential; nearly half of women feel mothers are the best people to teach their daughters about breast health, however only 25% have had a conversation with their mother about this2.

If you are worried about your breast health, it is important to take action. Getting a breast health check, and also learning how to check your own breasts (and actually doing it regularly!) are two great ways to stay on top of things. Executive Health Solutions Comprehensive Life First package4 is another great option, where not only your breast health can be taken care of, but any other health concerns you have can be too.







Back to posts