A NEW advert showing pictures of the breasts of women affected by cancer has been launched, in a bid to reduce rates of the disease.
Health officials said the advert is a world first, adding they hope the “shocking” images will lead to more women checking themselves for signs of breast cancer.
The campaign features the actress Elaine C Smith – who lost her mother to the illness – holding up a series of placards illustrating symptoms of the disease.
The advert is part of a £30 million Scottish Government campaign to increase the number of cases of cancers detected early by 25 per cent.
“For some, the campaign might be shocking but as far as I’m concerned if this saves one life, it is absolutely worth it,” said Smith.
“For too many years, women have been confused and scared about what to look for. This should inform them of signs and encourage them to seek help.
“I lost my own mum to breast cancer and I know if she had seen this campaign then she would have known what she was looking for and perhaps visited the doctor and been checked much earlier.”
The advert, which will be shown after the 9pm watershed on television, explains it is not just lumps women should look for but dimples, a change in shape and a shiny “orange peel” in the breast area.
Latest figures show one in nine women in Scotland will be diagnosed with breast cancer, a figure set to rise as the population ages.
The disease accounts for 30 per cent of all Scotland’s cancers with just over 5,000 women diagnosed every year.
Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the advert was designed to be “hard-hitting” to ensure the health message was heard. Speaking at a preview screening in Edinburgh yesterday, she said: “This is ground-breaking and hard-hitting.
“It may attract criticism from some quarters, but I welcome that as, if this gets people talking, it gets the message out there.
“We lag behind many other European countries when it comes to cancer rates and I would love to see Scotland top of the survival-rate table.”
Breast cancer is the second- biggest killer of women in Scotland after heart disease.
Experts say early detection offers the best chance of survival for patients but the Scottish Government yesterday revealed just a quarter of women in Scotland admitted only checking for signs of breast cancer once a year.
The Scottish Cancer Coalition, which involves 20 different health charities, welcomed the new campaign.
Coalition chair Audrey Birt, who has twice recovered from breast cancer, said: “Detecting breast cancer early improves the chances of successful treatment so it’s important to be breast aware.”
The Scottish Government said an extra £12 million is being invested in upgrading breastscreening equipment across Scotland, to replace analogue mammography machines with digital units over the next three years.
Vicky Crichton, Cancer Research’s public affairs manager in Scotland, said: “There are also lots of things women can do to help reduce their risk of breast cancer.
“Keeping active, maintaining a healthy bodyweight and cutting down on alcohol are all great ways to reduce the risk.”