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Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness

Statistics show that 1 out of 8 women can develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Thanks to the option for early detection, together with more advanced treatments, many of those diagnosed will go on to live full, active lives.

However, early detection and advanced treatments can only be effective if individuals understand the importance of regular screenings and seek medical attention when necessary. It is crucial for women to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, as well as the risk factors and methods of prevention. By being proactive and informed, women can increase their chances of catching the disease in its early stages, when it is most treatable.

What is Breast Cancer Awareness?

Breast cancer awareness is an effort to raise awareness and to reduce the stigma of breast cancer through education. October is traditionally breast cancer awareness month but, we need to be vigilant all year.

The objective is to educate individuals, empower them to make informed decisions and inspire them to take action to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. From walks, runs, and other fundraising events, the goal is to increase awareness and bring attention to this important issue.

What is Breast Cancer?

Our cells sometimes grow old and become damaged. These are called malignant cells. When these malignant cells then multiply repeatedly, a cancerous lump or tumour may form.

Breast cancer occurs when these malignant cells multiply in the breast. If left untreated, they can spread to other parts of the body ie. Brain or bones. Although breast cancer mainly occurs in women, men can also get breast cancer but is more rare.

Breast Cancer Awareness

What are the types of Breast Cancer & Malignant Tumours?

There are invasive and non-invasive types of breast cancer. Breast cancer is invasive when the cancer cells have spread outside the milk ducts or lobules and into the surrounding breast tissue.

Non-invasive breast cancer is called Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) and is the earliest possible form of breast cancer, usually found during routine breast screening.

What are the Risk Factors?

Doctors do not know the exact causes of breast cancer. But there are risk factors that can increase your chances of developing it.

Having one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean you will get breast cancer. Alternatively, having no risks does not mean that you will not get breast cancer. However there are certain factors that can put you at risk

  • Being older than 40.
  • having a close family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • having a personal history of cancer and its treatment.
  • if you have never had a baby or your first pregnancy was over 35.
  • If you have used contraceptive pills for a long time.
  • If you are post-menopausal and are on HRT ( Hormone Replacement Therapy).
  • If you drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray examination which allows breast problems to be detected, whether they are benign abnormalities or developing tumours. At BRP, mammograms are routinely done with Tomosynthesis and breast Ultrasound. Two X-rays are performed on each breast.

Is a Mammogram Safe?

Despite what some people think, Mammograms are perfectly safe. We are exposed to daily background radiation in our environments all the time. A mammogram is equal to approximately two months of this same background radiation. The x-rays are low dose and do not pose much threat to the patients. The risk factors of potentially having an undetected cancer outweigh any mammogram risk factors.

What is Tomosynthesis

Tomosynthesis, or 3D digital breast imaging, is an advancement in breast imaging, which has improved early detection of breast cancer by 40%. This technology is more sensitive with detection of breast cancer, thereby reducing the chances of recall for further biopsies. For women with denser breast tissue, this form of imaging has improved the peace of mind of both radiologist and patient.

Tomosynthesis is performed on the standard mammogram machine, allowing for a layered or sliced breast tissue acquisition of images.  The Radiologist is then able to view these layers one by one. Not only does this improve the overall result, but it also allows for overlaying tissue folds to be fully visualised.

Tomosynthesis allows for less compressing or “squashing” of the breast, reducing the discomfort associated with having traditional 2D mammograms. The breast is placed between the x- ray detector and plastic paddle, purely to prevent movement. This is an advantage, as often women are less inclined to repeat their mammograms due to a painful prior experience.

Does a Mammogram Hurt?

In order to achieve the best quality image, it is necessary to compress the breasts firmly.

This is, however, mostly tolerated by patients, although some may be more sensitive. Your mammographer will never compress so much that it is not tolerated by you.

What is Breast Ultrasound?

With an ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are used to produce an image of the breast. This process does not utilise plates or radiation. This form of breast imaging may not be as sensitive as tomosynthesis or 3D imaging. It is often used as a complementary form of imaging – to attain additional details. Nevertheless, ultrasounds are also useful on their own in some cases. For instance, pregnant women cannot have mammograms, due to the radiation involved in that process.

Breast Cancer Awareness

What is MRI Breast Imaging?

MRI of the breast uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed images of the structures within the breast. It may be used to screen women who are higher at risk of breast cancer, to evaluate the extent of a present cancer and to evaluate abnormalities seen on the mammogram. It does not use radiation and is therefore safe.

What Can You Do?

One of the best actions you can take is to put an early detection plan in place. Early detection and treatment can drastically increase a woman’s chances of recovery. Studies have shown a 33% decrease in deaths in women over the age of 40, who go for regular screening mammograms or annual check-ups. Early detection may also save on financial implications that a later stage cancer can have


1. Routine breast self-examinations.
2. Annual clinical breast examinations.
3. Annual mammogram.


It’s important to get to know your body. If you know what your breasts feel like when they are healthy and in their normal state, it will be easier to notice abnormalities if they occur.

Breast Cancer Awareness


Use the pads of your 3 middle fingers. Begin in your armpit and, using small circular motions with varying degrees of pressure, examine your entire breast area.

Breast Cancer Awareness


BSE is easier when your skin is wet and soapy. In the shower, raise your right arm above your head and use the “touch technique”  Repeat on the left side.

Breast Cancer Awareness


Place a pillow under your right shoulder. Begin at the armpit and make a series of three small circles. Use light, medium and deep pressure.  Repeat on the left side.


  • Puckering of the skin
  • Lump in the breast or armpit
  • Change in the skin around the nipple
  • Nipple discharge
  • Dimpling of the nipple or nipple retraction
  • An unusual increase in the size of the breast
  • One breast being unusually lower than the other
  • An enlargement of the gland
  • Nipples being at different levels
  • Pain in any area of the beast


When Should You Have A Mammogram?

It’s important to get to know your body. If you know what your breasts feel like when they are healthy and in their normal state, it will be easier to notice abnormalities if they occur.

How Do You Prepare For Your Mammogram?

Bring your previous mammograms to your appointment so that the Radiologist can compare your images.  Avoid using any deodorant, powder and/or perfume on the day of your mammogram. 

How are mammograms reported?

Radiologists use BI-RADS (Breast Imaging Reporting and Database System) to report a mammogram. This system was developed by radiologists for reporting mammogram results, using a common language. The Radiologist assigns a single digit BI-RADS score (ranging from 0 to 5) when the report of your mammogram is created.