One in four women don’t check for signs of breast cancer

Olivia Petter

Millions of women are putting themselves at risk by not checking their breasts for early signs of cancer, new research has found.

According to a survey of more than 2,000 British women aged over 18 conducted by Bupa and HCA Healthcare UK, one in four said they have never examined their breasts or can’t remember the last time they did.

Meanwhile, 39 per cent of those surveyed said they would delay seeking medical help if they did find something unusual.

As for why this might be, the survey found that one in three women worry about wasting a doctor’s time with their concerns, while others are embarrassed.

These concerns were more prevalent for those aged 18 to 34, with more than half of the women in this age group saying the same.

Miss Joanna Franks, consultant breast & oncoplastic surgeon at HCA Healthcare UK, said: “Early diagnosis for breast cancer is so important, as it can prevent patients needing to undergo complex surgery and drug treatments. 90 per cent of women diagnosed at an early stage will be alive and well five years post diagnosis however, this drops to just 15 per cent for those diagnosed at a later stage.”

Julia Ross, head of cancer care at Bupa UK, stressed that women should get to know what is and isn’t normal for their breasts so that they can easily identify any changes.

“As well as looking and feeling for lumps in the breast or armpit, changes in size or shape or changes to the nipple such as discharge, a good rule of thumb is to look out for any change that’s unexplained or persistent – and if you’re worried to seek medical advice.”

The claim that many women aren’t checking their breasts for early signs of cancer follows those made by a similar study published in January 2018, which revealed that women who lacked body confidence were less likely to conduct regular checks.

The study was published in the journal Body Image and out of the 384 British women surveyed, it found that the majority were unhappy with the appearance of their breasts in some way.