Half of women fail to check for breast cancer

Half of women fail to check for breast cancer: Experts say breasts should be checked every six weeks as new figures suggest one in ten people have NEVER looked for any changes

  • Experts have urged all women to check their breasts at least every six weeks 
  • But one in ten women have never looked at their breasts to check for changes
  • One in five check only every six months and one in eight do so less than yearly 

Half of women fail to regularly check their breasts for signs of cancer, a study has found.

And one in ten have never looked for changes at all, according to a survey for the charity Breast Cancer Now.

One in five check only every six months and one in eight do so less than yearly.

One in five also said they were ‘not confident’ about what they should be looking for. Others said they would be reluctant to go to their doctor because of awkwardness or embarrassment [File photo]

Experts said the figures were ‘deeply concerning’ because most cases of breast cancer are detected when patients spot something is wrong.

They urged all women to check their breasts at least every six weeks.

‘That one in ten women have never checked their breasts really shocked me,’ said Manveet Basra, public health chief at Breast Cancer Now.

‘It is quick, easy, and can help detect any breast cancer early, giving treatment the best chance of working.

‘There’s no special technique – just get to know your breasts and what’s normal for you, so you can spot any new or unusual changes. Remember to check all parts of your breasts, your armpits and up to your collarbone for changes.

‘Making this part of your routine – such as in the shower or when you apply moisturiser – can help you to do it regularly.’

Experts said the figures were ‘deeply concerning’ because most cases of breast cancer are detected when patients spot something is wrong. They urged all women to check their breasts at least every six weeks [File photo]

The survey, which was carried out by YouGov, found that almost half of women said they simply ‘forgot’ when asked what stopped them from checking their breasts more regularly.

One in five also said they were ‘not confident’ about what they should be looking for.

Others said they would be reluctant to go to their doctor because of awkwardness or embarrassment.

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: ‘It’s worrying that almost half of women don’t check their breasts regularly for new or unusual changes.

‘A woman noticing a potential symptom and getting this checked by the GP are often the first steps that lead to diagnosis.

‘Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment, which can prevent women from dying of the disease, meaning the importance of regular breast checking cannot be underestimated. The pandemic has thrown us into unprecedented times, but one thing remains the same – all women must get any potential symptoms of breast cancer checked by a GP.’

Sarah Manley, a teacher from south London, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 after discovering a lump by chance.

The 47-year-old said she would go months or years without checking herself, but following her treatment has completely changed her habits.

She said: ‘I was completely shocked to be told I had breast cancer, I’d always been so healthy. My diagnosis has definitely changed my behaviour and checking my breasts is now part of my routine.

One in ten have never looked for changes at all, according to a survey for the charity Breast Cancer Now. One in five check only every six months and one in eight do so less than yearly [File photo]

‘I was checking so infrequently that I didn’t know what was normal for me and wouldn’t have recognised a new change.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘Although some people will understandably have had reservations about coming forward during the first wave, essential cancer care was maintained and now the number of people getting treatment for cancer is back to pre-pandemic levels, so our message is to come forward for care and help us to help you.’

Symptoms can also include discharge, dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast, inflammation and swelling in the upper chest or armpit.

The UK has around 55,200 cases of breast cancer a year, with 11,400 deaths.

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