One in ten between 18 to 39 think they are too young to suffer from such illness – and one in five women who do check themselves agree they don’t know what they’re after
A quarter of women under the age of 40 have never been screened for diseases such as cancer, feeling they are too young, do not believe they will be affected, or are simply too busy.
The research of 2,000 women discovered that half of all women do not check their body for signs of cancer on a regular basis.
Women between the ages of 18 and 39 are the least likely to look for signs of cancer, with one-tenth believing they are too young to contract the disease.
However, a quarter confesses they lack confidence in inspecting themselves, and one in ten put it off in case they see a lump.
Additionally, it was discovered that women from South Asian backgrounds are the least likely to self-examine, with 40% admitting to never checking at all.
This figure drops to 27% for black women and just 13% for women of other ethnicities.
More than a third of South Asian women polled who do not check themselves for indicators of breast cancer claimed they forgot or are unsure what to look for.
While more than one in twenty (7%) do not feel comfortable self-checking for cultural reasons.
Additionally, it was discovered that, when compared to other ethnic groups, black women are the least confidence that they know how to check or what to look for (43%), and 15% fear being evaluated by others.
The survey was commissioned by The Estée Lauder Companies’ (ELC) Breast Cancer Campaign in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Leanne Pero, one of the breast cancer survivors and founder of Black Women Rising, stated: “It worries me that this new research reveals that a fifth of women in Black and South Asian communities wrongly believe that breast cancer only affects white middle-aged women.
“While Black women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they are more likely to develop aggressive, more advanced-stage breast cancer that is diagnosed at a young age, and therefore they are more likely to die from the disease.
“I am living proof that you can survive breast cancer if you act early.”
Additionally, the study discovered that 14% of all women never examine for lumps or changes in their breasts that could suggest cancer.
And even of the 83% who do, a fifth (19%) aren’t sure what they are looking for.
Female breast cancer has surpassed lung cancer as the most frequently diagnosed cancer worldwide, with an anticipated 2.3 million new cases in 2020.
However, one-third of women believe that breast cancer can only be developed in their 50s, and just under a third believe they are too “flat-chested” to be afflicted.
Lauren Mahon, breast cancer survivor, founder of Girl vs. Cancer and co-host of You, Me and the Big C, states:
“It’s incredibly important for younger women to realise they’re not immune from breast cancer; it’s not just a disease that affects women at a later life stage.
“For me it’s vital that women understand that even those with small boobs like me are at risk of breast cancer too.
“It’s terrifying to see that the research found that a quarter of young women are not checking their breasts and a third think their breasts aren’t big enough to get cancer.
“Knowing from first-hand experience the importance of early diagnosis, I urge women of all ages to check their breasts regularly to know what’s normal for them. It’s not about looking for cancer; it’s knowing what’s normal for your body.”
The reasons for not seeing a doctor when they see a lump or change in their breasts vary – from not wanting to waste their doctor’s time, to fear of not being taken seriously, to concerns that a female doctor will not be available.
Additionally, the research revealed that many LGBTQIA+, Black, and South Asian women believe there is a stigma associated with discussing breast cancer in their communities, as it is rarely discussed.
Eight in ten (82%) agree that greater access to tools and resources featuring a more diverse spectrum of persons is necessary to emphasize that breast cancer can affect anybody.
Sue Fox, President of The ELC UK & Ireland, said:
“Breast cancer is a diverse disease, not a disease with a single story.
“It is a disease that affects everyone, and this year’s campaign remains unwavering in uniting people to create a breast cancer-free world. It’s #TimeToEndBreastCancer.”
Image Credit: Getty