About Breast Cancer

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  • Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in breast tissue multiply and form an invasive (or malignant) tumour. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age and most women who have a diagnosis of breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.

    Diagram showing normal and cancerous cells.

    click on image above for larger view

    Detection

    Early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer. A breast screening mammogram is the best way of detecting breast cancer early, providing more treatment options and increasing the chance of surviving the disease.

    BreastScreen Tasmania provides a free screening mammogram to women between the age of 50 and 74 years at clinics in Hobart, Launceston and a mobile units that visit rural and remote locations across the state.

    While women within the target age are particularly encouraged to participate, all women over 40 years of age are eligible for the program.

    Women are encouraged to have a mammogram every two years. With each appointment only taking 15 minutes, it is a small investment for what could help save your life.


    Be breast aware

    It is important to know the normal look and feel of your breasts. Things you should look out for include:

    • a change in the size and shape of your breast
    • a change to the nipple such as crusting, an ulcer, redness or the nipple pulled in
    • unusual nipple discharge, especially if blood stained
    • a change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling or puckered skin
    • a new lump or lumpiness in your breasts, especially if it is in only one breast
    • a pain that does not go away.

    Most breast changes will not be due to breast cancer, but you should get them checked. If you notice a change in the look or feel of your breasts, even if your screening mammogram was normal, see your doctor without delay. The symptoms of breast cancer depend on where the tumour is in the breast, the size of the tumour and how quickly it is growing.