Black African and Caribbean women are urged to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer

Actress Dona Croll supports NHS ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer amongst black African and Caribbean women

The NHS is launching a new ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ public awareness campaign highlighting the fact that the older you get, your chances of getting breast cancer increase, with one third of women diagnosed with the disease each year being aged 70 or over.

Surprisingly, two thirds of women aged 70 and over (67 per cent)[i]wrongly think women of all ages are equally likely to get breast cancer, when in fact a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age.

The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign also encourages women from black African and Caribbean communities to know the signs and symptoms, talk to their daughters or daughters-in-laws and visit their doctor if they spot any changes in their breasts.

With many only on the lookout for a lump in the breast, other signs of the disease are often overlooked. The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign pushes women to identify several lesser-known but equally important signs of the disease, including:

  • pain in the breast or armpit;
  • changes to the nipples, size or shape of the breasts

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director at Public Health England, said:

“Research shows that women aged over 70 have low symptom awareness and are more likely to delay presenting to their GP with breast cancer[ii], which could ultimately affect their chance of survival.

Be-Clear-on-Cancer-Logo

“Added to this are the cultural taboos and embarrassment that are specifically associated with the discussion and education about breast cancer amongst older black Caribbean and African women.

“Women cannot afford to ignore the statistics – one in three women who get breast cancer are over 70[iii], so don’t assume you’re past it or dismiss any symptoms as a sign of ageing and most importantly don’t be afraid to talk to your GP.”

The campaign is urging daughters to engage older female members of their families in conversations about cancer to help detect the disease. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival. Therefore black Caribbean and African women are encouraged to talk about the issue.

The campaign has received celebrity support, with actress Dona Croll featuring in an infomercial designed for black African and Caribbean communities. Speaking on her role in the project, Dona commented:

“If losing precious lives to breast cancer can be avoided, then we must take every step necessary to prevent this. Educating women – specifically older woman from our communities – on the importance of discussion and subsequently, early diagnosis is vitally important. I am keen to help spread awareness and encourage women to monitor their health more vigilantly.”

To download the infomercial, please click here: https://www.yousendit.com/download/elNLWmdnNDRrUm1jZDhUQw

[1] Online adhoc survey conducted among a sample of 1499 females aged 18+ in England between 3-10 December 2013 by TNS BMRB.  Quotas were set for PHE region and to be nationally representative by age and social grade. Data was then weighted by region, age and social grade to ensure that it was nationally representative

[1] The National Cancer Equality Initiative (NCEI) in March 2010, ‘Reducing cancer inequality: evidence, progress and making it happen’

[1] Number of cases of female breast cancer (ICD-10: C50) diagnosed in England in 2011 (for age groups, the annual average number of cases between 2009 and 2011 is given). Reference: Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations–england–series-mb1-/index.html

[1] Number of cases of female breast cancer (ICD-10: C50) diagnosed in England in 2011 (for age groups, the annual average number of cases between 2009 and 2011 is given). Reference: Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations–england–series-mb1-/index.html

[1] Number of cases of female breast cancer (ICD-10: C50) diagnosed in England in 2011 (for age groups, the annual average number of cases between 2009 and 2011 is given). Reference: Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations–england–series-mb1-/index.html

[1] Office for National Statistics Mortality Statistics: Deaths registered in 2011, England and Wales 2010, National Statistics: London http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/all-releases.html?definition=tcm%3A77-27475

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