Raising Awareness of Breast Cancer


Oliver Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to raise the awareness of women of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. [76090]

Paul Burstow: Improving public awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and encouraging people to visit their general practitioner (GP) when they have symptoms is a key ambition of “Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer”, published on 12 January. Last year we provided £9 million to support 59 local awareness campaigns to raise awareness of breast, bowel and lung cancer and early indications are that there has been a positive response to the campaigns.

In June this year we announced that we would be providing £2.5 million to support a further 18 local awareness campaigns, seven of which will seek to raise awareness of breast cancer in women over 70. Survival rates for women with breast cancer in this age range are poorer than in other comparable countries and this is why we are focusing on this area.

More generally, we encourage all women to be breast aware. The Department has worked with health professionals, patient groups and the voluntary sector to develop a set of key messages for breast cancer that include the signs and symptoms of the disease. These are available on the NHS Choices website and we encourage charities and other stakeholders to use them widely in awareness raising activities. The Department has also published “Be Breast Aware”, a leaflet which advises women to know what changes to look for and report them to their GP as quickly as possible.