Middleton believes breast cancer awareness drive can save lives

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Londonderry DUP MLA Gary Middleton has welcomed the launch of the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) new breast cancer awareness campaign and urged women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women here, but it is also one of the most treatable, particularly when detected early, so the PHA campaign is aiming to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms and encourage anyone who discovers any of them to contact their GP.

This campaign is the latest phase of the PHA’s Be Cancer Aware campaign which aims to raise awareness about a range of cancers.

Mr Middleton said: “There is a lot that can be done to treat breast cancer, especially with advances in treatment in recent years, but early diagnosis makes a big difference.

“In fact, in cases where it is found and treated at the earliest stage, it is estimated that after five years 99 out of 100 women will still be alive, so early detection is very important.

“It is also essential to be aware of what to look out for. If you do find anything, make sure you don’t delay in making an appointment with your GP.

“If you want to find out more about breast cancer, and other types of cancer, visit the PHA’s Be Cancer Aware website at www.becancerawareni.info where there is very helpfulinformation and advice.”

Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said: “Most people may know to look out for a lump, but there are other changes that could point towards breast cancer, so it is vital that everyone is aware of them, as it could save your life.

“Changes to your body which may indicate breast cancer include turned in nipples, lumps, skin changes or crusted nipples, so if you notice any of these, speak to your GP without delay. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t put it off – the earlier you are seen, the better.

“While breast cancer is much more common in women, it can also affect men, so anyone noticing changes in their breast should seek the advice of their GP.”

A survey commissioned by the PHA earlier this year asked women if they could recall any warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Two out of three women identified ‘a lump or thickening in your breast’ as a possible sign of cancer and almost half recognised that ‘a lump or thickening under your armpit’ may also be a sign. However, other potential signs were less familiar to women, including skin changes, such as dimpling and puckering, and changes to the nipple, such as discharge, bleeding or becoming turned in.

There were 1,294 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2013. It can occur at any age, however, the risk of developing it increases with age. Most breast cancers occur in women over 50.

The Be Cancer Aware campaign has been developed in consultation with a broad range of cancer charities and stakeholders.

The hashtag for this campaign is #BeBreastAware