By Dr Heidi Peverill, Mater Breast, Melanoma and General Surgeon

Statistics tell us that by the age of 85, one in seven women in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common cancer affecting Australian women.*

This year, that’s more than 19 807 women—our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who need our help.*

So thank you for your participation in this year’s International Women’s Day Fun Run, and for supporting potentially life-saving breast cancer research at Mater.

You’ve taken action to support Australian women living with breast cancer, but are you looking after your own health?

As well as walking/running in the event, the most important thing you can do is to check your breasts (or encourage a loved one to check theirs).

Mammograms are offered for women aged 50 and older, but we encourage women of all ages to check their breasts monthly. Did you know that nearly 50% of women diagnosed find their breast cancers themselves?

This means that self-examination—and just generally becoming familiar with your breasts (or encouraging a loved one to become familiar with theirs)—is so important. It means that you (or they) will be able to recognise any changes, and is key for early detection.

If we, as medical professionals, find cancers earlier and smaller, the outcomes are much better.

How do I do a self-examination?

While checking your breasts, you should be looking out for lumps, feeling for any new pain, changes in your nipple or any tethering of the skin. Though it’s important to remember, if you have any concerns about any changes, please make an appointment with your general practitioner.


In terms of breast cancer prevention, we now know that some lifestyle factors can help increase the chance a woman may develop breast cancer.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, keeping our weight in a healthy range, and minimising alcohol intake all contribute to reducing our breast cancer risk as we get older.

So thank you, again, for joining the Mater community and our sea of pink, to support important breast cancer research—and don’t forget the importance of encouraging your loved ones to do regular breast checks, it could help save a life one day.

Meet Mater Private Breast Cancer Centre’s team of specialists, supporting Mater’s ongoing commitment to providing breast cancer services for women living in South East Queensland.

*Cancer Australia, 2020