Thursday, February 27, 2014.
London, UK- New Testament Assembly church
in Leytonstone, London, hosted its first Be Clear on Cancer awareness event on
Saturday, to highlight that early diagnosis of breast cancer can save lives
even in Black British women aged 70 and over.
Surprisingly, a recent survey
suggests two thirds of women aged 70 and over (67 per cent)[i] wrongly
think women of all ages are equally likely to get breast cancer, when in fact a
woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age. In fact one third of
women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 70.
Research shows that older women,
particularly from black African and Caribbean communities are more likely to
delay presenting to their GP with breast cancer. They might be embarrassed,
afraid of treatment or dismiss potential symptoms as a sign of ageing. This
combined with cultural taboos and low levels of awareness and understanding of
the signs and symptoms can reduce their chances of early diagnosis and
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign encourages
Black British women to know the signs and symptoms, talk to their daughters or grand-daughters
and visit their doctor if they spot any changes in their breasts.
The campaign was piloted in the West Midlands and
Gloucestershire from January to March 2013, as part of the National Awareness
and Early Diagnosis Initiative, run in partnership with Cancer Research UK, to
improve England’s cancer survival rates.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in England
with around 41,500 women diagnosed each year
Davinia Green, Breast Health Promotion Manager at Breast
Cancer Care, spoke to members of the community about the importance of being
breast aware and fears and cultural barriers that may exist.
She said: “We know that many older women don’t feel
confident about noticing changes in their breasts. By holding community events like this and
sharing information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, we want to
help women feel more comfortable about being breast aware and talking about any
Ms Green points out that the most important thing for women to
do is to look at, and feel their breasts regularly to get to know what’s normal
“It’s then much easier to notice if something isn’t right,”
she said. “Most changes won’t turn out to be breast cancer, but don’t be scared
of talking to your GP or delay going, as the sooner the diagnosis, the more
effective treatment may be.”
Possible signs of breast cancer include: A lump in your breast or armpit; nipple changes; changes to the skin of
your breast; changes in the shape or size of your breast; and pain in your
breast or armpit.
Reverend Marlene Greaves of the New Testament Assembly
church Leyton said:
"The Be Clear on Cancer event provided a great
opportunity to reduce ignorance around the issue of cancer. I believe it left
the women with a greater sense of responsibility towards themselves and the
women in their lives, to talk openly about breast health. Our aim was to apply
practical wisdom to faith, and give the women enough information to make
informed choices around their health. I'd say the event helped us to achieve
For more information on breast
cancer visit www.nhs.uk/breastcancer70