Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease.
It’s important for women of all ages to know what they can do to help find breast cancer early. Finding breast cancer early means there are more treatment options and the chances of survival are greatest.
This page provides information about breast awareness, breast changes, risk factors and mammography screening.
For information on breast cancer in men, visit Cancer Australia’s dedicated website, Breast Cancer in Men.
Breast awareness is important for women of all ages, even if you’re having regular mammograms.
You don’t need to be an expert or use a special technique to check your breasts. Take the time to get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts as part of everyday activities like showering, dressing, putting on body lotion or simply looking in the mirror. Knowing what is normal for you will help you to detect any new breast or nipple changes.
Breast changes to look out for include:
- a new lump or lumpiness, especially if it's only in one breast
- a change in the size or shape of the 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 the breast such as redness or dimpling
- an unusual pain that doesn't go away.
Nine out of ten breast changes aren't due to cancer, but it’s important to see a doctor to be sure. If you find a breast change that is unusual for you, see your GP without delay.
iPrevent is a validated breast cancer risk assessment and risk management decision support tool designed to facilitate prevention and screening discussions between women and their doctors.
Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to visit the eviQ General practitioner referral guidelines for cancer genetics assessment and eviQ Breast cancer – referring to genetics for evidence-based guidance on cases that warrant referral to a family cancer clinical for assessment, based on family history.
Familial Risk Assessment – Breast and Ovarian Cancer (FRA-BOC)
Familial Risk Assessment – Breast and Ovarian Cancer (FRA-BOC) was an online tool designed for use by health professionals such as general practitioners and nurses to assess a patient’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer based on family history.
The tool is no longer available on the Cancer Australia website. More up-to-date tools to assess risk of breast cancer are now available.
If you are aged 50-74, get your free breast screen done every two years. BreastScreen Australia offers free breast screening for women without symptoms aged 50-74, when screening has the greatest potential to prevent deaths from breast cancer.
Women aged 40-49 and 75 years and older who have no breast cancer symptoms or signs are also eligible for free screening mammograms.
For more details contact BreastScreen on 13 20 50 or visit www.cancerscreening.gov.au.
How can you reduce your chances of getting breast cancer?
As a woman, over the course of your lifetime there are many factors that can influence your risk of breast cancer. While some of the most important of these risk factors, such as being a woman, getting older or having a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer and genetic factors, cannot be changed, you can still aim to reduce risk of breast cancer through making healthy lifestyle choices and other risk-reducing strategies.
You can also improve your chance of better outcomes by being breast aware and knowing what to do about finding breast cancer early.
For more information, visit Cancer Australia’s Breast Cancer Risk Factors website.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
The good news is there are things that you can do to find breast cancer early:
- Get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts.
- Have a free breast screen every two years for women aged 50 - 74 years.
Cancer Australia’s Lots to Live For video provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with vital knowledge about the importance of breast awareness and early detection of breast cancer.
Find out more about breast cancer awareness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
For women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
A range of resources have been produced to inform women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds about breast cancer symptoms and the importance of early detection, and to assist women diagnosed with breast cancer in making decisions about their treatment and support.
Breast changes information in other languages can be found here.
Breast cancer resources
- Breast cancer risk factors website
- Find it early and survive video
- Knowledge is never out of fashion video
- View a short video about breast changes
- When the woman you love has early breast cancer
- When the woman you love has metastatic breast cancer
- Information for men whose partners have been diagnosed with breast cancer
Find out more about:
- What causes breast changes?
- Tests for breast cancer
- Breast cancer in young women
- Breast cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
- Breast cancer in men