New phone app puts breast cancer advice in the palm of your hand

SCOTTISH women are being urged to check their breast regularly with the aid of a new mobile phone application after research showed many are still not looking out for signs of cancer.

A survey by Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland found that almost half (47 per cent) of women said they were not checking their breasts regularly for lumps or other symptoms of the disease.

The charity has now launched the iBreastCheck, the UK's first "app" - a programme for smartphone and MP3 players - aimed at getting women to be more breast aware.

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The app helps women improve their understanding of the risk factors associated with the disease, as well as allowing them to set a regular reminder to check their breasts.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Scotland, affecting around 4,000 each year and resulting in about 1,000 deaths.

To try to diagnose the disease early, women are urged to check their breasts themselves regularly to detect any changes.

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But the survey showed that 42 per cent of women in Scotland do not check their breasts simply because they forget to do so.

The survey also showed that many women are unaware of the key factors that could increase their risk of breast cancer.

More than half (53 per cent) did not know that drinking alcohol could increase their risk of breast cancer, while 50 per cent did not realise being obese was also a risk factor.

Some 41 per cent of women did not know that getting older increased the risk of breast cancer, despite this being the greatest risk factor. And 39 per cent did not realise taking regular exercise could help cut their risk.

Audrey Birt, director for Scotland at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "These results clearly show that more work is needed to make sure that women are breast aware.

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"It is worrying that so many women don't know that drinking alcohol and putting on weight can increase the risk of breast cancer. It is estimated that four out of ten breast cancers could be avoided if people adopted healthier lifestyles."

She added that women should be aware of what is normal for them, and have any unusual changes checked by a doctor.

The new iBreastCheck features video and images outlining the Touch Look Check (TLC) message, explaining what women need to look out for when checking themselves.

There is also a "risk report" feature - an interactive quiz which invites women to enter details about themselves to assess their own risk of breast cancer, based on family history, lifestyle and environmental factors.And the iBreastCheck alert allows women to set a personalised alert at a time and date convenient for them to remind them to check their breasts.

Singer Bernie Nolan, who is currently undergoing treatment for the disease, described the app as "an incredible development".

"I only wish it had been thought of sooner," she said.

"The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of beating it, which is why I would urge every woman to get into the habit of being breast aware."

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