November 30, 2004

Ignorant Are Dying

Women do not know the facts about breast cancer despite dozens of educational campaigns aimed at telling them. Not knowing how to properly check for symptoms and misunderstanding the risks are two of the most common problems.

In a survey, 61 per cent thought that the 25-50 age group was most at risk, when in reality 80 per cent of cases occur in the over- 50s.

Women questioned also admitted they hated looking in the mirror, with three quarters saying they were ill at ease with their own nudity.

A third did not realise that their statistical chance of developing breast cancer was as high as one in nine over their lifetime, with some thinking the odds were as low as one in 100.

Thirteen thousand women die from the disease annually - and one woman is diagnosed every 15 minutes - but despite this 18 per cent of Welsh women admitted they either did not check their breasts regularly, or were looking for the wrong signs.

Just over a third said they would avoid discussing personal issues with friends.

'It is worrying that in this day and age women are literally dying of embarrassment because they cannot discuss their fears,' said Marie O'Riordan, editor of Marie Claire, the magazine which ran the survey.

'Discussion of breast awareness among friends or female relatives is vital if women are to educate themselves about this dreadful disease.'

The survey highlighted the need to check breasts for lumps or moles, skin irritation, dimpling, nipple pain, swelling, redness or unnatural leakage.: DEATH RATE FALLS:According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer is the most common type of the disease in this country, and is the second most common killer of women. Men can also develop the disease, but it is very rare. Because of developments and early detection, the death rate from breast cancer has fallen by 22 per cent. To donate to Cancer Research UK, call 08701 60 20 40.