The number of women in Scotland who are regularly* checking for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer has significantly declined from last year warns Breast Cancer Now.

Wednesday 25 October 2017      Scotland

51% of Scottish women are not regularly checking themselves

Figures show a 10% drop in the number of women regularly checking their breasts compared with 2016 (50% vs. 40%). According to the research carried out by Breast Cancer Now and YouGov, 51% of women are not regularly checking themselves. The survey also reveals that the main reason given by women for not checking more often is simply because they forget (46%).

The charity is also concerned that women in Scotland are unaware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, with research highlighting that 20% of Scottish women don’t check more often as they don’t know what to look for when checking their breasts.

Breast Cancer Now is calling for women across Scotland to check themselves regularly for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. The Touch, Look, Check guide helps women know the signs and symptoms to look out for, including:

  • A lump that may not be seen, but might be felt
  • Changes to skin texture such as dimpling or puckering
  • Changes in appearance or direction of the nipple
  • Nipple discharge
  • Rash or crusting on the nipple

Breast Cancer Now has also launched a new Breast Quiz, which contains seven multiple choice questions covering signs and symptoms, breast awareness, screening, lifestyle factors and myths about breast cancer. The health quiz will to help inform women on the importance of regular self-checking and test their knowledge of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

Lawrence Cowan, Policy and Campaigns Manager for Breast Cancer Now in Scotland, said:

“This is a worrying trend. With 51% of women in Scotland saying they are not regularly self-checking it’s clear that much more work is needed to help women in Scotland be breast aware.

“The earlier breast cancer is found the more likely you are to have a positive outcome. In fact, you’re five times more likely to survive breast cancer if it’s caught in its earliest stage.

“By 2050, we want everyone who develops breast cancer to live. Encouraging more women to check themselves regularly for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer can help save lives.**

“We want more women in Scotland to regularly check their breasts, get to know what looks and feels normal for them and to report any unusual changes to their doctor.

“It’s as easy as Touch, Look, Check.”

Mum of two, Sylvia Wallace from Perth discovered she had breast cancer in August 2012 when she was just 42 years old. She routinely checked her breasts and noticed a lump in her right breast while in the shower. Initially, she put the change down to a new exercise routine but when she noticed a change in her nipple Sylvia decided to go to the doctor.

Sylvia said:

“Early detection is so important with breast cancer, and you’re more likely to find something yourself if you’re checking regularly and you know what you look for.

“My breast cancer tumour was caught early and I was very fortunate that it hadn’t spread and could be treated. It’s been five years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I still check my breasts.

“I’m a strong advocate of Breast Cancer Now’s TLC campaign. It really worries me to hear that so that so many women still don’t regularly check themselves. There’s no special technique for checking your breasts and you don’t need any training. It doesn’t matter where or when you do it as long as you regularly check your breasts – it could save your life.”

* Regularly is at least once a month

** Source: Scottish Government, Get Checked campaign