Audrey Birt: Campaign to detect breast cancer early will save lives
THE KEY message from the “breast cancer, detect cancer early” campaign is that lumps aren’t the only sign of cancer. But why is this campaign important? Because we know the best predictor of a good outcome following a breast cancer diagnosis is how early that diagnosis is.
And from the surveys we have done at Breakthrough Breast Cancer as well as the research for this campaign we know many women still don’t know all the signs and symptoms to look out for.
They know, in the main, about lumps but it’s not just lumps, it’s about any changes to your breast from what is normal for you. It’s about changes to the size or shape of the breast, any change in texture, appearance or direction of the nipple, discharge, rash or crusting. The preparation we did for our own TLC message and iBreastcheck app told us that women didn’t know what to look for and weren’t sure what to do. This latest campaign will definitely help. It’s bold, it shows us all the reality of what breast cancer could look like and gets the message over that the earlier you check with your doctor, the better. It’s going to get people talking, I am sure, and ultimately people are going to be better informed as a result.
But does it really matter? Yes, it does. The statistics show that the earlier someone is diagnosed the better their outcome will be. At Breakthrough Breast Cancer, we focus on early detection because, like this campaign, we want to save lives.
I personally welcome this campaign, too, as I have been diagnosed early with breast cancer, twice now in my lifetime. Having an early diagnosis of breast cancer and excellent treatment 18 years ago has meant that I have been here to see my children grow up and to set up Breakthrough in Scotland.
I am delighted to support this ground-breaking campaign to better inform people about all the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and to have the confidence to act on it. It’s what I would want for everyone. So remember: don’t get scared, get checked.
It is in this spirit that I welcome the government’s campaign to encourage awareness of the early signs of breast cancer, launched this week.
• Audrey Birt is director of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.