Breast Cancer Awareness: Why it’s Important to Look for More Than Just Lumps - VITAL+ Pharmacy

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so to show our support, we’ve put together some helpful advice on getting yourself checked regularly and how to recognise the warning signs

With 1 in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and around 150 men, there’s a chance you know someone who has battled, or is currently battling the illness. Whilst it sadly affects many men and women all over the world, the good news is, if it’s diagnosed early enough there’s a good chance of recovery.

Of course you can check your breasts yourself — which we urge you to do so — but it’s advised to book in for regular breast screenings for an accurate diagnosis. Breast cancer symptoms are not always lumps — some women have suffered with less obvious symptoms like nipple abnormalities and weight loss, so it’s best to get a medical professional to check your breasts throughly to rule out any signs of the illness.

Women aged 40 and over are entitled to a free mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Australia. If you’re under 40 and worried about your risk of breast cancer, you should book in with your GP to discuss further options.

Men are also affected by breast cancer too. Whilst it’s less common in men, around 150 men are diagnosed each year. The symptoms are very much similar to those women experience, so if you notice any changes, we advise you to chat to your doctor for a further examination. For more information visit

Keen to know more? Below is a handy checklist detailing how to check your breasts (and chests for men) properly, where to get checked, and which warning signs to look out for.

Check Your Breasts Regularly

Once a month, when you’re having a shower or getting ready, look and feel your breasts to check for any changes. Take a look at Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation’s 3-Step Breast Check to make sure you’re checking correctly.

Look Out For Lumps

Check around your breasts and underneath your armpits for any unwanted lumps. If you do find any, be sure not to panic. Not all lumps are cancerous, but it’s best to get it checked by your GP, just to be on the safe side.

Check for Swelling

Pay attention to any strange signs, symptoms or changes you may be experiencing. If any part of your breasts or chest have swelling, or if they’ve changed in size, be sure to book an appointment with your doctor.

Notice Your Nipples

Breast cancer doesn’t always present itself as a lump. It’s important to also look for any changes in your nipples. If you suddenly notice a newly inverted nipple, leaking discharge or you have redness, sores or pain around the nipple area, it could be cause for concern. Get checked to put your mind at rest.

Pay Attention to Pain or Irritation

Swollen, painful breasts are common for many women, and are mainly due to hormonal changes like pregnancy and PMS. If you suddenly notice breast pain that isn’t linked to your menstrual cycle or breastfeeding, or if you notice any unexplained, painful irritation to the skin, book in for an appointment with your doctor.

Stay Healthy. Get Checked.

Breast cancer isn’t a condition that only affects women in their 50s, 60s and 70s, young women and men can also get it too. To give yourself the best chance of early detection, report any change in your breasts to your GP, or book in for a breast screening mammogram with your local BreastScreen clinic. Click on the links below for more information.

Breast Cancer in Men  
BreastScreen Victoria 
BreastScreen Tasmania  
BreastScreen NSW  
BreastScreen ACT  
BreastScreen Queensland  
BreastScreen SA 
BreastScreen NT  
Breast Screen WA  


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