Mums need to teach their young daughters how to check their breasts for signs of cancer.

According to the McGrath Foundation you should start from as young as twelve.

The foundation’s second annual McGrath Breast Health Index revealed a variety of factors could increase women’s chances of getting breast cancer, including taking the contraceptive pill.

Research found women were more likely to conduct regular self-checks if they were taught about breast health from an early age by their mother.

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‘It’s really vital and important we are talking about this and mothers feel responsible for teaching their daughters,’ McGrath Foundation director Tracy Bevan told the Daily Telegraph.

‘Children are told about slip, slop, slap and looking after their teeth and mothers need to also include in those conversations about getting to know your breasts.’

Ms Bevan says the earlier the conversation about breast health is started the better, and believes taking to girls from age 12 is appropriate.

‘It’s not about scaring young women…but about having an open conversation,’ she said.

McGrath Breast Health Index Key Findings

– Almost three quarters (73%) of Australian women consider themselves to be breast aware, yet only 16 per cent fulfil all four criteria to be considered a ‘breastpert’: awareness, confidence in recognising changes in the breast, knowledge of risk factors for breast cancer, and behaviour in terms of frequency of checking

– Australian women who have spoken to their mother about both breast awareness and puberty are significantly more likely to be ‘breastperts’, i.e. qualify for all four index criteria – awareness, self-confidence, behaviour and knowledge (26% vs 16% overall).

– Women who first learnt about the importance of breast health from their mother are more likely to check their breasts regularly.

– Fifty per cent of Australian women believe mothers are best placed to educate young women on the importance of being breast aware.  Despite this, less than a quarter (22%) have had a conversation with their mother about breast awareness.

– Of topics of conversation Australian women recall having with their mothers; only 22% have had a conversation about breast awareness, ranking well below menstruation (57%), table manners (48%) and puberty (35%).

– However, times are changing – almost half (48%) of mothers with daughters aged 10 or older have had a conversation with their daughter about breast awareness. (Still lower than puberty (67%) and table manners (65%)).

– 84 per cent agree it is appropriate to talk to young women about breast awareness as part of the conversation about puberty.

Find some great tips HERE on How to talk to your teenager about breast health.

There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts! via McGrath Foudnation

The best way to get started, is to get familiar with them – this is no time to be shy! Get to know how your breasts look and feel – look at them in the mirror, feel them standing up, lying down and with your arms above your

Look at the shape and appearance of your breasts and nipples in the mirror with your arms by your side. Raise your arms above your head and have another look..
Feel all of your breasts and nipples, from the collarbone to below the bra-line, and under the armpit too.

Once you’re up close and personal with your ‘breast friends’, you’ll be better equipped to recognise any changes.

A good tip to keep in mind is to check your breasts at the same time every month.

But so long as you’re checking consistently, you’re on the right track.

Such an important habit to teach young girls.

Share your comments below

  • Such an important lesson to learn – thanks for sharing


  • I never would have thought to do this from such a young age but it is definitely something for me to think about now.


  • wow how the times are changing! at least this is awareness for the situation. i never thought about it


  • Yeah we need to be teaching our children how to car for and look after their bodies at all times.


  • Good ideas!


  • Thanks for sharing these tips. My eldest son has 3 daughters and they have been taught to be breast aware by their Mother.


  • I agree, this is very important.


  • Education and knowledge is everything. The younger we can teach girls/women to start checking, the simpler and automatic the process will be.


  • Thank you for flagging this by us. I should talk about it with my 13 year old, eventhough she hasn’t developed breasts yet.


  • Carrie Bickmore was talking about the importance of breast related topics on TV TONIGHT.


  • I must admit, I am guilty of never checking my breasts, my gyno does it when I go for my annual check up with him and he tells me off for it every time.

    • My GP does it too – regular check of breasts and pap smear too.

      • Your GP should be able to provide you with a self check chart – I do regular checks along with the GP checks.


  • A great article that rings true,it can happen at a young age.


  • I never thought about this, but it makes sense.


  • It’s so important. Thanks for reminding us!


  • Makes sense to start as soon as they get breasts.


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