Mums must talk to daughters about breasts

Encouraging mothers to talk to their daughters about their breasts could be the key to improving early detection of breast cancer, according to new research from the McGrath Foundation.


The second McGrath Breast Health Index shows women who first learnt about breast awareness from their mother are more likely to check their breasts regularly.

Despite the power of a mother’s influence on her daughter, the survey of more than 1000 Australian women found less than a quarter (22 per cent) had recalled having had a conversation with their mothers about breast awareness.

Conversations about table manners, the choice of clothing and hairstyles were far more common between a daughter and mother.

Tracy Bevan, McGrath Foundation Ambassador and Director says like many difficult conversations that must be had between mother and daughter, the need to check your breasts is one of them.

“Everybody agrees that the conversation should start between mother and daughter not daughter to GP, or in school,” said Ms Bevan.

“It’s about educating ourselves and getting the right information to pass it on to our daughters,” she said.

The index again found that while most women, 73 per cent, consider themselves very breast aware, the knowledge of risk factors is low.

Only one in 20 women correctly identified all 11 breast cancer risk factors, with only about 20 per cent knowing that starting menstruation earlier or menopause later was a risk factor for developing the disease.

Around 60 per cent of women said they felt confident they would be able to detect a change in their breasts; and half check their breasts at least once a month.

Ms Bevan says breast cancer does not discriminate and its vital women are armed with the right information so they become a ‘breastpert’.

“Start taking this serious and start checking your own breasts and educating your children because if you are unlucky enough to be diagnosed you would rather be diagnosed in the early stages when you’ve got the best chance of beating breast cancer.”


* 22% of Aussie women recalled talking to their mothers about breast awareness

* 26% of women who spoke to their mother about both breast awareness and puberty were considered a breast expert or ‘breastpert’

* 73% of women consider themselves to be somewhat or very breast aware