The earlier the better

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BREAST Cancer Awareness Month is well underway, coinciding with the first anniversary of the Scottish government’s Detect Cancer Early campaign.

Holyrood is back on the subject this October, with support from actress Elaine C Smith, who features in the advertising campaign depicting real breasts with visible signs of cancer.

One in nine Scottish women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime — and it ranks among the three most common types of cancer (alongside bowel and lung), affecting in total around 30,000 Scots each year.

The message is clear: the earlier the better when it comes to diagnosis.

The average survival rate for cancer has doubled in the last 30 years, as treatment options grow and — perhaps most importantly — more and more people are detecting it early on.

Elaine C Smith said: “For too many years women have been confused and scared about what to look for, and the campaign has helped encourage them to seek help.

“I am hugely proud of what it has achieved to date, and have no doubt whatsoever that increased awareness saves lives.”

Still, research by Breakthrough Breast Cancer shows that half of Scottish women do not check their breasts for lumps or other symptoms - including dimples, orange peel skin and crusty, leaking or inverted nipples.

Women between 50 and 70 are invited to participate in breast cancer screening every three years through their GP — and anyone with concerns about their breasts is advised to make an appointment too.

Screening remains the best way of detecting cancer at an early stage, and routine personal checks will help you spot changes in your body.

The advice is; don’t get scared, get checked — and you can find out more by calling NHS Infom on 0800 22 44 88 or visiting www.nhsinform.co.uk.