Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Breast Cancer Ireland & Aviva Health launch Be Breast Aware: Have a Feel Day campaign and the new Breast Aware iPhone App

26 September 2012
TV Presenter Lisa Cannon was in Dublin's city centre today to support the Be Breast Aware: Have a Feel Day campaign by Aviva Health Insurance and Breast Cancer Ireland and launch the results of a national survey of young Irish women that shows over 140,0001 are unaware of how often they should check their breasts, with two in five (41%)2 saying they forget, and over one in ten (16%)2 saying they do not know how to perform a breast self-examination. At the launch, Lisa shared how her aunt's personal battle with breast cancer made her aware of the importance of monthly breast checks.
 

Pictured (l-r) are Linda Burgess; Dr Naoimh Kenny (Aviva's Medical Council); Aisling Hurley (Development, RCSI); Jarlaith Murphy (RCSI); and Nicola Turley.

Charity partner, Breast Cancer Ireland, has launched a new pink Breast Aware app today that provides women with a step-by-step guide on how to perform a self breast examination as well as a useful and discreet monthly reminder. The Have a Feel Day campaign encourages women of all ages, but importantly those in their 20s, 30s and 40s to be breast aware, reminding them to check their breasts at the same time every month so that they know what is normal for them and can spot changes early. Since the launch of Have a Feel Day last year, over 7,300 women signed up for Aviva's Facebook app that offered free discreet monthly reminders to check their breasts.

Encouragingly, the research has shown that over half (51%)2 of women surveyed, understood the importance of being breast aware. However, although there is a level of awareness of the importance of self-examining, just over one in ten (12%)2 women aged 18-24 years still do not check their breasts regularly because they say they are ‘too young to be at risk.'

Data collected also shows that when faced with the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis, women across all of the age groups surveyed (98%)2 stated their biggest concern would be the ‘fear of the cancer spreading' and ‘not catching it early enough'. This was followed by the concern for ‘the treatment not working' (97%)2, and a ‘lifetime of fear of the cancer returning' (95%)2. However, women aged 18-24 years were most likely to be worried about the personal impact of the disease with more than three quarters (81%)2 stating that they would be concerned about hair loss as a result of treatment, and almost half (44%)2 saying they worry they would have a lack of support from their boyfriend or friends.


Pictured is TV presester, Lisa Cannon

TV Presenter and campaign ambassador, Lisa Cannon, spoke about her aunt's battle with breast cancer at the launch, saying, "My aunt Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, when women were less aware and informed about what to look out for or what a breast cancer diagnosis meant. Her diagnosis had a profound impact on my family, and because of this I was shown by my mum how to perform a breast check from a young age. There is no need for girls to be embarrassed about checking their breasts or asking their GP to show them how. I'm proud to say that I check my breasts every month and have done so since I was 16, that way I know what's normal for me and can spot a change straight away - and I would urge women of all ages to ‘Have a Feel' this month and to keep on doing it!"

Speaking at the launch, Dr Naoimh Kenny, GP on Aviva's Medical Council, said, "Aviva's research shows that while there is an increase in the number of women checking their breasts, there is a need to constantly remind women of its importance. As a GP, I find that most women who present with an abnormality in their breast find it first themselves, therefore reminding women to self-exam at regular intervals is really important. Young women should know that the success rate for early diagnosis of breast cancer is very good and that by being vigilant, you increase your chances of catching it early and receiving the appropriate treatment."

Prof. Arnie Hill, Professor and Chair of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, also stated, "We know from studies that breast cancer if detected early has a much more positive survival outcome. Our hope is that by encouraging women to become breast aware from an early age, they will be more familiar with the natural changes in their breasts throughout their monthly cycle, and will in turn recognise any abnormalities should they arise." He added "The new iPhone app outlines various symptoms that can present and, while most will never experience an abnormality, those that do should contact their GP who in turn will take the most appropriate course of action. This app is a great educational tool, and as we have seen from international research into breast cancer, those that are more informed about their bodies have much more positive treatment outcomes."

To sign up for free breast self-exam reminders on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/avivaireland, or download the free Breast Aware iPhone app now directly from iTunes. To learn more about Be Breast Aware: Have a Feel Day and the Breast Aware app, log onto to breastcancerireland.com / avivahealth.ie.


Statistics from the Have a Feel Day research show(2):
• 54% of women said that they know a friend or family members who has or had breast cancer
• 15% of women stated they had a scare once but it turned out to be nothing serious
• When checking their breasts, the majority (97%) of women are aware to look out for a lump or thickening different to the rest of their breast tissue

How to check your breasts properly3:
• Put your left hand behind your head
• With the pads of your right fingertips make small circular movements to examine your left breast for anything unusual
• At first feel lightly, checking for anything near the surface
• Then press quite firmly, feeling for anything deeper. Continue around the breast checking all areas.
• Also, examine above your breast, up to the collarbone and out to the armpit.
• Gently squeeze the nipple between the thumb and forefinger to check for unusual discharge.
• Then repeat these steps for the right side.

Changes to look for in your breasts3:
• A lump or thickening which is different to the rest of the breast tissue
• Continuous pain in one part of the breast or armpit
• One breast becomes larger or lower
• A nipple becomes inverted or changes shape or position
• Skin changes including puckering or dimpling
• Swelling under the armpit or around the collarbone
• A rash on or around the nipple
• Discharge from one or both nipples

References:
1. 15% of women surveyed as part of Breast Cancer Awareness research. September 2012.
2. Breast Cancer Awareness research. September 2012.
3. Breast Cancer Ireland.

Notes
1. The Breast Cancer Awareness research was carried out between 10th - 17th September 2012 by Empathy Research among 540 women aged 18 to 44 years living in the Republic of Ireland.