In an office full of women, we talk all day about the issues that affect us. Relationships, parenting, the result of the recent election, periods – they’re all regular topics spoken about over the watercooler.
But there is one thing we don’t tend to chat about until it’s far too late: cancer. Especially those that specifically affect women.
At current rates, it is expected that one in two Australian men and one in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
If we develop a system where we have regular breast, ovarian and bowel cancer screenings, which should happen on an annual or biannual basis depending on your age, then we can go a long way in preventing many cancer-related deaths.
Research shows that regular breast screenings prevent breast-cancer related deaths by 20 per cent, and regular bowel screenings prevent death by 50 per cent. This is hugely significant when we acknowledge that one in five people who died from breast cancer, and half of all people who died from bowel cancer, could have been with us longer.
To help everyone keep on top of it all, we’ve put together a checklist to empower you to know what cancer checks you should be doing and how often you need to do them.
"One in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime." Image: iStock.
To figure how likely you are to develop breast and ovarian cancers, there is a handy online calculator that empowers women to understand their own risk profile and take action to reduce their own risk. It only takes a few minutes to complete and could go a long way in helping you take control of your preventative health.
Apart from being aware of your own breast cancer risk profile, it is recommended that all women undertake self-checks monthly to recognise irregular lumps and bumps in their breasts. If you are between the ages of 40 - 74, Breast Screen Australia provide free, biannual breast screening, which can decrease fatality rates by about 20 per cent.
For those who fall in a high-risk category, which means you have strong family history of breast cancer or experience breast cancer symptoms, you may need to adopt a more vigilant diagnostic testing approach, which could include tests like a 3D mammogram or an ultrasound. It's always best to see your doctor if you have any concerns.