HALF of women are not checking their breasts regularly for signs of cancer, new research from a city charity has found.
A YouGov poll of women throughout Scotland, the results of which have been branded “shocking” by Breakthrough Breast Cancer, also revealed that of those who did not check, more than six in ten said the reason for not carrying out a monthly self-examination is that they forget.
The results of the survey, which revealed that 92 per cent of women could not name five common signs and symptoms of the disease without prompting, follow a high-profile Scottish Government campaign to spread awareness of how to spot breast cancer.
The drive, starring actress Elaine C Smith, was hailed as a success after statistics showed that the number of women seeking breast cancer advice soared.
It helped to boost the numbers of women seeking a consultation with their GP by more than 7000 during the three-month period of the campaign, compared with the same period the previous year, while an information video on YouTube had 200,000 views, making it the most-viewed Scottish Government video yet.
But while many of those who saw the campaign took action as a result, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which has offices in the New Town and funds research at the Western General Hospital, said its figures had shown that there is still a long way to go to ensure women are “breast aware”.
James Jopling, Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s director for Scotland, said: “It’s shocking that despite being the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Scotland, half of women do not check their breasts regularly, and nearly all of them still do not know five common signs and symptoms of breast cancer off the top of their head.
“Another worrying fact is that women don’t check because they forget. We know that early diagnosis saves lives, so it’s incredibly important that women know what to look out for and to check regularly.”
Dr Sue Payne, a public health medicine consultant with NHS Lothian, said that as well as lumps, changes in the shape or size of the breast, unusual pain or changes in the skin were possible signs of breast cancer and should be checked.
Around 600 people in Lothian are diagnosed with the disease every year.
Dr Payne added: “Early detection saves lives, and I would encourage all women to get to know your breasts and to check them regularly so you can tell if something changes.”
Breakthrough Breast Cancer is offering a free guide and a smartphone app, which automatically reminds women when to check.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “These statistics are a stronger reminder that women must continue to look out for the signs of breast cancer.
“While our recent breast cancer campaign got people talking about breast cancer and taking action, with 50 per cent more women contacting their GP about symptoms, we will continue to build on its success to bring about more long-term behavioural changes.”