Are you breast aware?

Are you breast aware?

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women in Ireland, however due to increased awareness and early diagnosis, the number of breast cancer survivors is increasing, with 83% of those with a breast cancer diagnosis now living 5 years and beyond. We want you to know the facts and be breast aware so that survival rates can keep increasing.

Current Irish statistics:

  • 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lifetime
  • About 20 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Ireland – so men do need to be breast aware too!
  • Every year over 3,100 women are diagnosed
  • 30% of women are diagnosed between 20-50 years
  • 34% of women are diagnosed between 50-65 years
  • 36% of women are diagnosed over the age of 65 years
  • Only 5% of breast cancer cases are hereditary

How to reduce your risk:

  • Be a healthy weight: fat cells in your body increase hormones and high levels of certain hormones in turn increase your cancer risk. Try to be a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet and being active.
  • Be active: Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days a week. Moderate physical activity is any movement that makes you feel warm and breathe a little deeper.
  • Limit alcohol: The more you cut down on alcohol, the more you can reduce your risk. Limit your risk by drinking no more than one standard drink a day.
  • Breastfeed your baby: Breastfeeding helps to protect mothers from breast cancer. It is best to breastfeed your baby for the first six months if possible. The longer a woman breastfeeds her baby, the more she reduces her breast cancer risk.
  • Don’t smoke: Some recent research suggests that smoking may increase the risk of breast cancer. It is important to note that smoking causes 30 per cent of all cancers. For advice, support and information contact the HSE Quit Team on Freephone 1800 201 203, Freetext QUIT TO 50100
  • Attend screening: Attend BreastCheck, the breast cancer screening service when called. All women aged 50 to 69 are invited to have a free mammogram every 2 years. See

Signs & symptoms of breast cancer

  • A change in size or shape such as one breast becoming larger than the other
  • A change in the skin such as puckering or dimpling (like orange peel) or redness
  • A change in the direction or shape of your nipple, especially if it sinks into your breast or becomes irregular in shape
  • An unusual discharge (liquid) from one or both of your nipples
  • A change on or around the nipple such as a rash or flaky or crusted skin
  • Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
  • A lump or thickening in your breast
  • Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit

If you notice any one of these changes talk to your doctor without delay.

Early diagnosis is key!


Breast cancer in men

Breast cancer in men is rare but it does happen. About 18 -20 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Ireland.

What are the causes?

As with breast cancer in women, the causes of male breast cancer are not fully known. However, there are some factors which might increase the risk:

  • Age: As with breast cancer in women, increasing age is the main risk factor. Most men who get breast cancer are over 60, although younger men can be affected.
  • High oestrogen levels: High oestrogen levels can occur as a result of chronic liver damage, obesity and some genetic conditions.
  • Obesity: Being very overweight (obese) seems to increase the risk of male breast cancer. This is especially so for men over 35 years of age. Obesity may be related to a higher oestrogen level in the body.
  • Kleinfelter’s syndrome: This is a rare genetic condition where a man is born with an extra female chromosome. For men who have this syndrome the risk of breast cancer is 20 times greater than the average.
  • Radiation: Men who have had repeated and prolonged exposure to radiation can be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. For example, radiotherapy treatment to the chest wall, particularly at a young age.
  • Significant family history or genetic link: Men with a significant family history of female breast cancer are also at a higher risk of breast cancer. This includes a mother or sister, particularly if the relative was under the age of 40 when diagnosed.

More information:

To speak to a cancer nurse on any aspect of breast cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email

Free to download app

The Breast Cancer Ireland free to download app “Breast Aware” offers:

  • A discreet monthly reminder to your phone
  • A step by step simulated video guide on how to perform a self-breast examination
  • An outline of the 8 signs and symptoms to look out for – earlier detection saves lives



Download from Apple store

Download from Android store

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