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Keeping abreast of breast cancer: Signs and symptoms and the importance of exercise.

Ladies, yes you! Did you know that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women? Approximately 20,000 Australians are diagnosed every year and half of those diagnosed are women who have no identifiable risk factors other than gender (female) and age (over 40 years). Consequently, knowing your body, the symptoms and noticing any subtle changes early is vital for survival.

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • breast lump or thickening, often without pain

  • change in size, shape or appearance of the breast

  • dimpling, redness, pitting or other changes in the skin

  • change in nipple appearance or the skin surrounding the nipple (areola)

  • abnormal or bloody fluid from the nipple

a woman in a pink bra gets her breasts examined by a doctor

Notice any of the above or other unusual changes? Don't stress, just hop off to your GP as quick as you can and make sure it is nothing of concern. If you do join one of the many Australians diagnosed, please remember that you do not have to go through it alone and the BBLC team are here to help.

Exercise is medicine! Research has shown that regular exercise is an effective intervention in improving the quality of life, cardiorespiratory fitness, physical functioning, fatigue, and other treatment related side effects in breast cancer patients and survivors. Aerobic and resistance training is a great combination (at least 150 min/week of aerobic exercise and 2–3 weekly sessions of resistance activity), and is highly advantageous.

two women doctors examines an x-ray of a breast

Through regular physical activity and impact-loading type exercises, improvements in bone density and bone rebuilding can occur, which is of particular importance in post-menopausal women undergoing cancer treatment. Women lose up to 10 per cent of their bone mass in the first five years after menopause alone.

Ultimately, exercise has the ability to induce a magnitude of both physical and mental benefits for individuals going through breast cancer. It is important to have the guidance of a health professional to ensure it is tailored to your fitness level, needs and goals, which is where we come in! Our exercises physiologists are well equipped to provide a tailored exercise program that can assist you through your treatment journey and beyond.

If you would like more information, please call us on 02 8969 6300, email or click the button below to book in with our friendly team.


Bò, M. C., Merlo, A., Ligabue, M. B., Bassi, M. C., Lusuardi, M., & Campanini, I. (2023). Self-managed physical activity in breast cancer survivors: A scoping review. PloS one, 18(4), e0284807.

McNeely, Margaret L., Campbell, Kristin L., Rowe, Brian H., Klassen, Terry P., Mackey, John R., & Courneya, Kerry S. 2006. Effects of exercise on breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Canadian Medical Association Journal, pp. 34-41.

National Breast Cancer Association (NBCA), 2023. Breast cancer stats. Copyright National Breast Cancer Association, 2023.

World Health Organisation (WHO), 2023. Breast cancer. Copyright World Health Organisation, 2023.


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