Forum Focus: raising awareness of breast cancer
October turns pink to raise awareness of breast cancer
October has been designated national breast cancer awareness month for many years. In contrast to the Be Clear on Cancer Campaign I discussed last month, which focused on a number of related diseases that may be an early sign of lung cancer, October concentrates on a single disease that mostly affects women.
It is easy to think that awareness months are aimed solely at a public that is somehow distinct and separate from us healthcare professionals. But we are that public too as we also use healthcare services.
As members of a profession that is predominantly female, it seems natural to try to raise awareness of a cancer that affects so many women.
In the pink
It is difficult not to notice the annual campaign kicking off as supermarkets, public areas and advertising billboards turn pink. Yet look behind the pink facade and there is a serious and compelling message: breast cancer accounts for 15% of all cancers diagnosed in the UK.
More than 53,000 cases are diagnosed every year, 31 people die every day, 78% survive for up to 10 years and 27% of cases are preventable.
Touching, looking and checking your breasts regularly has long been promoted as a way of detecting signs and symptoms of cancer, yet around half of women do not do this regularly.
Answers in an app
As we become more reliant on our smartphones, the breast check app developed by Breast Cancer Now may be the answer for people like me who need to set reminders.
The app sets up your checking plan and sends you a reminder when it is time to check. It also includes information on how to check your breasts.
The app is free to download for Android or iPhone.
You can download the app by visiting http://tinyurl.com/za53cah
About the author
Susanne Cruickshank, Chair, RCN cancer and breast care forum @Sue_Cruickshank