Scottish women are still dangerously unaware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, a major charity has warned.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland said nearly nine out of 10 (89%) are unaware that one of the major signs of the cancer is a change in appearance of the breast. A survey carried out by the charity also revealed that four out of five women (81%) do not know that breast pain can be a symptom of the disease while nearly half (49%) do not check their breasts regularly for signs of the disease.
The charity’s Scotland director Audrey Birt said, “Being breast aware can make a vital difference because the earlier breast cancer is picked up the better the chance of successful treatment. Our own message is show your breasts some TLC touch, look, check.
“Do this by regularly touching, looking for changes and checking anything unusual with your doctor and attending breast screening if you are over 50, as these are the best ways to identify breast cancer early. If you find any unusual changes or are worried by anything, you should talk to your GP straight away.”
The third annual breast cancer survey by the charity said awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer has remained static since the first survey was carried out in 2009.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer is now calling on the Scottish Government to roll out its planned £30 million Detect Cancer Early initiative, which aims to save the lives of people with breast, colorectal and lung cancer through early diagnosis as soon as possible.
Kirkcaldy singer and radio presenter Jackie Storrar (45) discovered a lump just before Christmas 2009 and said it is vital women check regularly. “Getting breast cancer came as a total shock,” she added. “What I noticed was a lump and I was fortunate the cancer was picked up early.Breast aware”I now want to spread the word about how important it is for all women to check themselves regularly and be breast aware.
“What we can take from this is that there is a lot more to be done across the board to improve breast cancer awareness in Scotland. This will take time and effort but with 1000 women dying of breast cancer here each year, improving awareness remains of paramount importance.”
NHS Tayside breast screening services manager Debbie Archibald said that each year thousands of women do not attend screenings.
“The east of Scotland breast screening service has an uptake of almost 80%, making it one of the highest in Scotland,” she said. “This does mean, however, that approximately 4000 women a year do not attend for routine screening.
“Women aged 50 to 70 are sent an invitation letter which gives a specific appointment time to come for their mammogram. A leaflet giving full information about breast screening is sent with all invitations and staff at the breast screening centre at Ninewells Hospital are happy to answer any telephone inquiries.
“Mobile breast screening units visit most towns throughout Tayside and north-east Fife and women are usually invited to attend the mobile unit nearest their GP practice. If this is not suitable they are able to change their appointment to wherever is most convenient for them to attend this may be at the Ninewells screening centre rather than a mobile unit.
“Information on screening is also available from GP practices, libraries and various internet websites.”