Breast cancer

At the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre we know that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing event. We also know that every cancer is different, just like every person is different. We are dedicated to supporting and guiding you throughout your care. On this page you can learn about symptoms of breast cancer and the potential treatment pathway.

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What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the breast. It is the most common cancer affecting women, with approximately one in eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Women with breast cancer can present in two ways. Symptomatic patients usually undergo a series of investigations after presenting to their doctor with a breast complaint, whereas asymptomatic patients are usually identified through screening programs but do not have any symptoms.

Breast cancer is usually diagnosed using a series of tests which can include breast examination, mammogram or ultrasound, as well as a biopsy. This is when a fine needle is used to sample parts of the breast lesion which are then examined under the microscope.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

If you have any of the following symptoms please see your doctor. These symptoms may also occur for ailments other than cancer. Your doctor will advise if you need tests and where you should go to have these tests. 


  • A new lump or lumpiness in the breast
  • Change in the shape or size of the breast
  • Change to look or feel of the nipple
  • Discharge from the nipple that happens without squeezing
  • Redness or dimples on the skin of the breast
  • Unexplained pain that does not go away
This information should not be used to replace medical advice.

Can I be treated at the ONJ Centre?

Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, your doctor or specialist can make a referral to the ONJ Centre for your cancer treatment. You can ask to be referred here, regardless of your insurance status or the stage of your treatment. The ONJ Centre is part of Austin Health, a leading Australian public hospital.

how to get a referral

Developing a plan for treatment

A multidisciplinary team

A team of doctors and nurses who specialise in the treatment of breast cancer will develop a treatment plan specifically for you. The treatment you receive may include surgery, radiation therapy and medical oncology treatments such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapies.

You may also be eligible to join a clinical trial. The different options appropriate to your care will be discussed with you when you attend the clinic.

Factors affecting treatment

We will personalise your breast cancer treatment to your individual needs. The type, order and duration of your treatments will depend on a number of factors. These include whether and how far the cancer has spread, the size and location of the affected area, and how abnormal or aggressive the cells look under a microscope. We also take into account your general health.

You will receive most of your treatments as an outpatient, and your General Practitioner will remain an important person in your ongoing care and follow-up.


Breast Care Nurses

+61 3 9496 3715

1800 134 864 - country patient toll free (extension 3715)

131 450 - free telephone interpreter service (TIS)


On Call Oncology Registrar via Austin Health switchboard

+ 61 3 9496 5000

Your potential treatment pathway

If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor or specialist can make a referral to the ONJ Centre for your cancer treatment. The treatment you receive and the order in which you receive it depends on your individual needs.

You can ask to be referred here, regardless of your insurance status or treatment stage. The ONJ Centre is part of Austin Health, a leading Australian public hospital.