A third of women do not check for signs of breast cancer and could be putting their lives at risk, according to a survey by Breast Cancer Care.
The survey of 2126 UK adults found that 33% of women to not look for symptoms of breast cancer regularly. It also revealed that 20% of those who do not check say their main reason for not doing so is because they do not know how to. ‘This poll shows that, although women know to look out for a lump, many are still worried about how to check their breasts and don’t know what other symptoms to be aware of,’ said Samia al Qadhi, chief executive of Breast Cancer Care. ‘There’s no correct way to check – whatever your age, it’s about looking at and feeling your breasts in a way that’s comfortable and convenient for you.’
The survey also found that 19% of women aged 45-54 who do not check said it is because they are scared of what they might find, despite being the age when breast cancer risk increases. Furthermore, 11% of women aged 55 and over who do not check their breasts believe they do not need to between NHS screening appointments, which should happen every three years from the age of 50. ‘It’s totally understandable that the thought of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be very frightening,’ added Ms al Qadhi. ‘But we know that earlier detection can mean more effective treatment.’
The data also found a lack of education when it comes to the symptoms of breast cancer. It showed that, while the majority (96%) of women know that a lump in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer, other signs and symptoms are less familiar. These symptoms include redness or a rash on the breast, a nipple becoming and nipple discharge. Ms al Qadhi urged women to have their breasts checked, saying ‘make today the day you start getting to know your breasts, even before you need screening or between appointments, so you can spot any unusual changes quickly.’