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Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 at 10:23 am
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Health

Catching it Early thanks to Team B-Aware

Breast Cancer Care Scotland is launching a high profile campaign aimed at promoting early detection of breast cancer in targeted communities and improving survival rates across the country. The three year campaign is being supported by Chris Weir, who also becomes Breast Cancer Care Scotland’s first Breast Health Awareness Ambassador. She is donating £250,000 in each year of the campaign’s life.

Called B-Aware, the campaign has been developed in response to research showing that the breast cancer incidence rate in Scotland has increased by 14% in the past decade, while cancer survival rates in Scotland are one of the lowest in Europe. It is recognised that the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment can be.

The new breast awareness programme will create a team of trained volunteers called Team B-Aware, recruited from around Scotland. Team B-Aware will reach clearly defined, typically hard-to-reach groups in their local communities where prompt detection rates may be even poorer. This includes women and men with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, mental health issues and people from black and ethnic minority and socially disadvantaged communities.

The volunteers’ role will be to spread the breast awareness message, break down barriers and dispel the myths associated with breast cancer. It’s hoped that the programme will encourage more people to come forward as soon as they have a symptom or suspect something is wrong, thus aiming to improve survival rates.

Team B-Aware volunteers will be fully supported by Breast Cancer Care’s Breast Health Promotion Team in a structured ‘Train the Trainer’ course devised specifically for Scotland.

Jane Hinnrichs, Chair of Trustees, Breast Cancer Care Scotland commented, “We know that early detection is essential in ensuring a successful outcome for women and men with breast cancer. We also know that for some sections of the Scottish community, we aren’t getting that message through to them. We have wanted to tackle this for some time and the donation from Chris means we can now get this life-changing project off the ground and start to save lives.

“Just as important to us is that Chris is joining us as our first Breast Health Awareness Ambassador in Scotland for the duration of the campaign. With over 30 years’ experience as a mental health specialist, her knowledge of working with hard-to-reach groups will greatly assist this vital project.”

Speaking as the campaign launched, Chris Weir said, “In my career, I saw at first-hand the challenges many people confront when accessing and dealing with information that the rest of us take for granted. For example, in relation to breast cancer, people with learning difficulties face barriers such as trouble understanding breast awareness messages, written information is not always appropriate or accessible, they may be relying on carers and health professionals to support them, the need to inform them may not be taken seriously, issues around capacity and informed consent or they are simply overlooked.

“But breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. When Breast Cancer Care Scotland talked to me about the low survival rates here and I realised that this situation was even worse for hard-to-reach groups, I immediately agreed to support their campaign. I am also proud to be their first Breast Health Awareness Ambassador in Scotland and look forward to working with the team in the next three years.”

Health Secretary Alex Neil said, “We know that the earlier cancer is detected and treated, the better the chances of survival. That is why it is so important that we spread the breast awareness message and help people to spot the signs and symptoms – not only in themselves, but in others too.

“We welcome and support the work of Breast Cancer Care’s B-Aware Team, who will raise awareness of cancer in all our communities. This is vital work, supporting our Detect Cancer Early programme, which will help to increase early referral and detection of breast cancer – which can really save lives.”

Potential volunteers can contact teamb-aware@breastcancercare.org.uk or telephone 0845 092 0816.

Around 46,000 women are living with breast cancer in Scotland, with over 4,400 women diagnosed each year. For further information on symptoms and how to check for early signs of breast cancer, see breastcancercare.org.uk

 

 

 

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