We all know someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer. It could be your mother, your sister, your best friend, your husband, or even you. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, it you have breast tissue, you can develop breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australia. Sadly, the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer is on the increase, and it is estimated that close to 20,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. This equates to 53 people receiving a life changing diagnosis each day. However, due to advances in research, the number of deaths resulting from breast cancer has decreased. Additionally, Australia has the best survival rates in the world, which is great news.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the importance of early detection, raise awareness of the disease, and to encourage people to donate to research in the hope one day finding a cure for this devastating disease.
So, what exactly is breast cancer, and what steps can we take to prevent it? Like all cancers, breast cancer occurs as a result of abnormal changes to the genes that regulate cell growth in our bodies. Breast cancer can begin in the fibrous tissue within the breasts, or in the breast ducts or milk producing glands. The cancer cells grow uncontrollably, and can spread throughout the breast, and on to other part of the body. Breast cancer can be non-invasive, meaning that the cancer is contained within the lobules or milk ducts, and have not progressed to other breast tissue. Alternatively, breast cancer can also be invasive, spreading out to surrounding breast tissue or lymph nodes.
There are a number of symptoms that may indicate breast cancer. These include:
- a new lump or lumpiness in the breast
- a change in the size or shape of your breast
- a change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion
- a nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
- a change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
- unusual breast pain that doesn’t subside
Did you know that some people are more predisposed to breast cancer than others? Being overweight, high alcohol consumption, a family history of the disease and even simply being a woman can mean that you are more likely to develop breast cancer. Amazingly, EasyDNA Australia is here to help during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a range of tests that can reveal your susceptibility to developing breast cancer.
The Inherited Cancer Panel specifically looks for inherited gene mutations in over 130 different genes associated with a wide range of hereditary cancers, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, the genes commonly associated with breast cancer. Similarly, the BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 Genetic Screening Test detects gene mutation and analysis of the breast cancer genes to determine your risk. The Genetic Predisposition Test also screens for your predisposition to breast cancer, and 34 other diseases and conditions. This test analyses your unique DNA profile to see if it contains the key markers associated with the development of breast cancer.
All of these tests provide the starting point for you to take charge of your breast health, and depending on which test you select, may also provide crucial information about your genetic predisposition to a range of conditions.
There is no time like right now to start taking control of your health, and it’s as simple as a basic oral swab, or a standard blood draw. While you are waiting for your results, register for and organise a pink themed breakfast this October. Grab your friends and get together for a pink champagne brunch or a pretty pink high tea. Make it fun with a themed dress code, games, and a fundraising goal to help raise much needed funds that will go towards ending breast cancer for good! You can register your event at the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Think pink for breast cancer this October!