October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, raising awareness and donations for the disease. Most people have a friend or relative affected by Breast Cancer, making it an important topic to address. And much like hearing loss, it is something best handled when diagnosed early.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Australia. While predominantly associated with women, men are also liable to contracting the disease. This equates to roughly 20,000 Australians being diagnosed every year. The good news is that the 5-year survival rate continues to go up. In fact, the NBCF has taken up the challenge of reaching 0 deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
This sort of challenge of course is dependent on diagnosing the disease as early as possible. This starts with every woman (and man!) keeping an eye out that everything is normal with their breasts. Periodically check that you are not feeling a lump, pain or a change in how the breast feels. For men, this is often under the nipple area. Women can feel a difference anywhere from the armpit and collarbone inwards, so be thorough!
If you do feel anything is slightly off, speak to your doctor. More often than not, it is nothing to be worried about, but early detection is key. And remember that mammograms are free and recommended every 2 years for Australian women aged 40-75 years old. Outside of this age bracket, speak to your GP to arrange a scan. Similarly, if you have a reason to be concerned, such as strong family history, bring it up with them.
So how does this relate to hearing? As it happens, certain cancer treatments and medication can affect your hearing, particularly chemotherapy medications. Effects can include tinnitus, balance issues or just a general loss of hearing. And with the breast cancer survival rate continuously improving, cancer survivors with an aidable hearing impairment become more common.
If you have been recently diagnosed with any form of cancer, make sure to get an audiogram done. This will allow you to have a benchmark available in case treatments were to affect your hearing. You can also then monitor any changes that may occur thereafter and hopefully reduce the risk of hearing damage. There are always ways to manage a hearing loss even if it is worsening with cancer treatments. And much like with cancer, early detection of a hearing loss is key to effective management.
So keep in mind if you are needing to get cancer treatments to keep checks on your hearing. If you have any concerns, just call Falls of Sound at 3378 5999 for Indooroopilly or 5443 8993 for Maroochydore. And remember to periodically check your breasts for any changes that may indicate a cause for concern. You can find more information on breast cancer or on how to donate at https://nbcf.org.au/.