Education is key to girls’ future health

Sarah Guilfoyle and Lynette Bracegirdle at Blackpool Victoria Hospital's Breast Care Unit
Sarah Guilfoyle and Lynette Bracegirdle at Blackpool Victoria Hospital's Breast Care Unit
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Breast Care nurses at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are calling for more information to be given to girls when they are at school.

Sarah Guilfoyle and Lynette Bracegirdle say by teaching schoolgirls about breast care and health, it will help future generations understand breast cancer and risks from a younger age.

Their comments come as a study commissioned by Avon UK shows more than a third of women haven’t spoke to their daughters about breast awareness.

Lynette said: “I think primary care and school nurses have more responsibility than mothers when it comes to educating young girls because, really, do mums feel confident in breast awareness and do they know what they are looking for?

“Health professionals know what to look for.

“Children at whatever age are talked to about contraception and sexual health, we should be educating them about breast health as well.”

Sarah said children and women under the age of 29 were at the lowest risk of developing breast cancer, at one in 2,000.

Women aged up to 39 have a higher risk at one in 215, which means women in their 30s are targeted more for breast awareness than younger children.

Sarah added: “The greatest people at risk are women who are older.

“Ninety-five per cent of diagnoses are because we are women and because we are older. Only five per cent of cases are hereditary. If a family has lost a close relative to cancer they are more aware of it, and if a mum has been diagnosed they will tell their daughters to check their breasts.

“I just wonder if we are putting too much responsibility on mothers if we’re asking them to educate their children.”

The nurses say one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and the greatest risk was to women aged 69 and over.

The Avon study, carried out to mark October as breast cancer awareness month, showed 31 per cent of women had not spoken to their daughters about breast awareness.

Of the women surveyed, 33 per cent said they lacked the knowledge and confidence to openly discuss the issues or to guide their daughters on checking their breasts.

On top of that, more than 80 per cent of women said they had never spoken to their own mothers about breast awareness.

Forty per cent said they believed they were best placed to teach their daughters about breast awareness.

Eluned Hughes, head of public health at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, says it is hugely important to detect any signs of the cancer as early as possible. She said: “The importance of being breast aware has never been greater. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and most cases are picked up by women themselves.

“We know early detection is key as the earlier breast cancer is found the better the chance of beating it, so we encourage all women to know their breasts and be aware of any changes, and if you do spot anything unusual go and check with your doctor.”

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