Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021 – What We Need to Know

Posted on 7 October 2021

October is breast cancer awareness month.  What does this mean and why is it important?

What is breast cancer awareness month?

Breast cancer awareness month is an annual international campaign to highlight the impact of breast cancer on the community, encourage women to get screened and raise money for breast cancer research.  There are many Australian initiatives designed to increase awareness of the effect of breast cancer on Australian women and their families, and motivate people to become involved and donate to this most worthy cause.

Why is breast cancer awareness important?

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian women (apart from non-melanoma skin cancer).  Approximately one in eight Australian women will be diagnosed during their lifetime.  This translates to an enormous impact on Australian women and their loved ones.

Survival rates for women with breast cancer continue to improve.  This is due to several important factors:

  • Research: a large amount of research is being conducted to further our understanding of the biology of breast cancer and trialling novel therapeutic agents
  • Early detection: population screening programs such as BreastScreen Victoria help detect cancers at an early stage when they can be more easily treated

What should I do?

There are a few important things you can do to take care of your own breast health and support those in our community with breast cancer.

  • Understand how to minimise your risk of developing breast cancer

There are several risk factors for breast cancer which a woman can modify to reduce her chances of developing breast cancer.  These include maintaining a healthy weight, and minimising alcohol and smoking.  iPrevent is a risk assessment and risk management support tool which can help you understand your own personal risk and help you discuss this with your doctor.  Visit

  • Self-breast examinations

No-one knows your body better than yourself!  You are in the best position to notice any changes in your body.  Make examining your breasts every month a priority.

  • Know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer

These include breast skin changes, lumps in the breast or armpit, breast pain, nipple inversion or discharge, a change in size or shape of your breast.  See your doctor immediately if you are concerned about any of these.

  • Book a BreastScreen appointment

Women and trans and gender diverse people aged 50 to 74 are eligible for free mammograms through BreastScreen Victoria.  Those aged in their 40s or over 75 should speak to their doctor about whether screening is appropriate for them

  • Donate to breast cancer research

There are many research organisations which rely on generous donations to continue their important work in saving lives and supporting women with breast cancer

Written by Dr Lironne Wein, Medical Oncologist and Consultant Physician.

Lironne has a special interest in managing menopausal symptoms associated with cancer treatment.  She believes in optimising the wellbeing and quality of life of her patients, and has a holistic and evidence-based approach.

To make an appointment with Lironne please call (03) 9041 9082 or email Women’s Health Melbourne


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