A groundbreaking breast cancer campaign has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of women consulting their GP for breast cancer symptoms.
The Scottish Government’s breast cancer drive, featuring Elaine C Smith, launched in September last year and was the first advert in the UK to show real pictures of women’s breasts with visible signs of breast cancer.
Figures released today by ISD Scotland show that between September and November 2012, 21,000 women consulted their GP for breast cancer symptoms, which was a 50 per cent increase from 13,900 on the same period in 2011.
To coincide with the release of the statistics, Health Secretary Alex Neil this week met with breast cancer survivor Angela Moran at the Breast Clinic at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
Mr Neil said: “The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the greater the chance it can be treated successfully and that is why it is so important that women know how to spot the signs of breast cancer early on.
“These figures show that our bold breast cancer campaign has been effective in getting people talking about breast cancer, and in encouraging women to contact their GP if they are worried about changes in their breasts.
“Cancer waiting times figures out today also show that patients who are referred for cancer treatment are continuing to be seen within the fastest possible time.
“More lives can be saved in Scotland through earlier detection.”
James Jopling, Scotland Director at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “It is welcome news that women have responded to this campaign by going to their GPs to get any possible breast cancer symptoms checked out. We know that early detection can save lives as the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the chance of successful treatment.
“Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among women in Scotland with nearly 4,500 women diagnosed every year. We urge women to remain breast aware – touch their breasts and feel for anything unusual, look for changes in shape or texture, and check anything unusual with their doctor.”
Elaine Anderson, Clinical Director of Edinburgh Breast Unit, South East of Scotland Breast Screening Service and plastic and reconstructive Surgery, NHS Lothian, said: “The Edinburgh Breast Unit treats more than 20,000 women each year, including the diagnosis and treatment of around 800 new breast cancer cases every 12 months.
“It’s encouraging to see such a large number of women have consulted with their GP as soon as they have noticed changes to their breasts. Early detection is vital and saves thousands of lives every year.
“If you notice any changes to your breasts then please don’t sit in silence.”
Angela Moran, 53, from Linlithgow, West Lothian, knows how important it is to check your breasts for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. The grandmother of one was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 46, but after undergoing chemotherapy and a mastectomy, has now been clear of the disease for six years.
Angela explained: “My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer two and a half years prior to myself so I was already quite aware of the symptoms and I checked myself regularly. When I found a lump in my left breast I made an appointment with my GP straight away but it was quite strange as I couldn’t always feel it and wondered if I was just being over anxious because of my sister.
“I remember sitting in the waiting room and worrying that I was wasting the doctor’s time. However the doctor was very supportive and confirmed that there was indeed a lump and acted right away to get me referred. I’m always amazed by the amount of women who don’t regularly check their breasts or go for mammograms. These simple steps could save your life.
“If you do find something that you’re worried about it is always best to face up to it – no matter how frightened you are. Making an appointment with your GP is the hardest but most important step you can take.
“Thinking that you might have cancer is a worry but it won’t go away if you ignore it. Don’t delay and deal with any concerns that you may have today, I did.
“Nowadays I’m much more relaxed and beating cancer has taught me to take life one day at a time – I spend more time enjoying life and less worrying about trivial things. I realise how lucky I was to catch the breast cancer so early on.”