Every day in Australia, around 50 women are told they have breast or a gynaecological cancer every day and sadly around 12 Australian women will die from a women’s cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women. Breast cancer can occur at any age. It is more common in women aged over 60 but nearly one-quarter of women are younger than 50. In WA in 2014, 1737 women were diagnosed with breast cancer (31% of all cancers in women).
Gynaecological cancers. In WA in 2014, 463 women were diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer (9% of cancers in women). The most common gynaecological cancers are Uterine (womb), Ovarian and Cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the most preventable due to the National Cervical Screening Program.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
• Nipple sores, nipple discharge or turning in
• Skin of the breast dimpling, rash or red swollen breasts
• Unusual lumps or changes such as severe itchiness, lump or changes such as burning, soreness, swelling,
• New lumps or thickening in the breast or under the arm
• New pain or discomfort that is only on one side
Signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers
There may be no symptoms or symptoms may be non-specific and include:
• Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, (particularly after menopause)
• Pain after or during sexual intercourse
• Changes in bowel/bladder function ie, constipation, diarrhoea, need to urinate more often
• Lower abdominal swelling and/or discomfort (pressure, bloating, feeling full even after a light meal, heartburn, nausea, loss of appetite)
• Excessive tiredness/fatigue
• Leg pain or swelling
• Low back pain, abdominal or pelvic pain
• Menstrual irregularities (bleeding that is longer or heavier than usual or bleeding between periods)
• Any lumps, wart like growths, moles that change shape or colour
• Itching, burning, soreness
If any of these symptoms are unusual for you, and they persist, it’s important to see your doctor. Having any of these symptoms doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer – usually they turn out to be something less serious. But it’s important to tell your doctor and get them checked.
For more information about Pink Ribbon Day see www.pinkribbon.com.au/pink-ribbon-day/
Remember, if it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the earlier it can be treated.
For more information and/or to book a talk about the prevention of cancer for your community, group or workplace please ring 9574 5392 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hansen, | Regional Education Officer Wheatbelt | Cancer Council WA