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Old 01-12-2003, 12:06 PM
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Breast Health

Protect yourself from breast cancer.

Breast cancer is no longer a disease women have to leave to chance - by assessing your risks and making changes to your lifestyle, you can help your body put up a strong defence. Stephanie Osfield explains how in our special report, p.146, September issue of the Weekly.

As part of a holistic approach to breast health, it is important for all women to get to know the normal look and feel of their breasts.

How to self-examine your breasts:
Examine your breasts every month, a few days after your period, when they are least likely to feel lumpy or tender.

1. Take a good look at your breasts in the mirror and check for any changes in shape, colour or texture.

2. Women who wear a B-cup or larger bra should lie down with their knees bent; women with smaller breasts can examine in the shower.

3. Imagine your breast is an orange divided into four segments. With your right arm behind your head, use three flattened fingers of your left hand to massage each segment. Use light, then firm pressure in each area.

4. Bring your right arm to your side, and with the left hand firmly examine your armpit. Swollen glands can indicate unusual activity.

5. Repeat steps three and four on the other breast.

6. If you feel a change, ask your GP to check it out. Don't panic - nine out of 10 changes are not cancerous.

It is important for all women to get to know the normal look and feel of their breasts. By regularly checking your breasts, you may be able to recognise changes that could be a sign of early breast cancer. Some women choose to check, or feel, their breasts while in the shower. Others prefer to lie on a bed.
Remember, you should see your doctor straight away if you notice any changes in the list below - no matter what age you are:

A lump, lumpiness or thickening:
•For younger women - if this is not related to your normal monthly cycle and remains after your period
•For women of all ages, if this is a new change in one breast only

Changes to the nipple:
•eg, a change in shape, crusting, a sore or an ulcer, redness or in-drawing of the nipple.

Discharge from the nipple
•If this is from one nipple and is bloodstained, or occurs without squeezing.

Changes in the skin of a breast
•eg, any puckering or dimpling of the skin, unusual redness or other colour change

Persistent, unusual pain
•If this is not related to your normal monthly cycle, remains after your period and occurs in one breast only

A change in the shape or size of a breast
•This might be either an increase or decrease in size. (Courtesy of Source National Breast Cancer Centre)

[/b]Want more information? Then contact:
BreastScreen: 13 20 50
Cancer Information Service: 13 11 20
The National Breast Cancer Centre: 9334 1882 or visit their website at www.nbcc.org.au[/b]
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