Ethnic Minority Women Urged to Talk About Breast Cancer


National Campaign By NHS With Comedian Meera Syal

Mother’s Day is a world-wide celebration honouring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is also a day to say thank you to the influential women in our lives and a chance to get together and talk, to offer help and advice.


The NHS is reminding all women this Mother’s Day about the importance of being breast aware and would like to encourage women to talk to their mothers, grandmothers and even aunts about breast cancer – to know the signs and symptoms and to go straight to the doctor if they notice any changes.


The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ public awareness campaign is urging daughters to engage older female members of their families in conversations about cancer to help detect the disease. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival.


The campaign has highlighted the fact that the older you get, your chances of getting breast cancer increase, with one third of women diagnosed with the disease each year being aged 70 or over. Surprisingly, 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. 


With many only on the lookout for a lump in the breast, other signs of the disease are often overlooked. The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign pushes women to identify several lesser-known but equally important signs of the disease, including:


·         pain in the breast or armpit;

·         changes to the nipples, size or shape of the breasts


The campaign has received celebrity support, with actresses Dona Croll and Meera Syal featuring in infomercials designed for black African, Caribbean and Asian communities. Speaking on her role in the project, Dona commented “If losing precious lives to breast cancer can be avoided, then we must take every step necessary to prevent this. Educating women – specifically older woman from our communities – on the importance of discussion and subsequently, early diagnosis is vitally important. I am keen to help spread awareness and encourage women to monitor their health more vigilantly.”


Meera Syal features in an infomercial designed for the Asian communities. Speaking on her role in the project, Meera says “Breast cancer is something which is hardly discussed amongst Asian women. It comes down to taboos and a sense of embarrassment. I really want to help get the message out there that breast cancer is a very real and relevant disease amongst Asians. My own mother suffered from it and fortunately she spotted it early and like most women who do these days she survived. This was due to her swift action in visiting her GP as soon as she noticed changes in her body. It goes to show how quick responses can influence a matter of life and death.”


So why not take a little time out on this special day to ensure that the women in your life are aware of the potential symptoms and the action they need to take to help them stay well and healthy.

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