Majority of women unaware of early signs of breast cancer, finds global survey

Less than half (42%) are confident that they know what changes to their breast could be a sign of cancer. A quarter (25%) think that a lump is the only sign of breast cancer that can be identified without medical equipment, find the survey by Avon

Above image is for the representational purpose only.

New Delhi: Only two in five people (42%) are confident about recognizing the changes to their breasts that could be a sign of cancer, according to a new survey of 19,000 respondents by Avon Products, Inc., the world’s leading social selling company. The findings come in synch with the launch of their India initiative #PayAttention addressed to men and women alike, to take up a simple breast self-examination to detect early symptoms. 70 per cent cases are curable when detected early. The findings also show there is a knowledge gap amongst women globally about what the symptoms are for breast cancer and how to lower the risk of developing the disease.

The World Health Organization estimates that breast cancer kills more than 500,000 women globally every year, a number that could be greatly reduced if cancer were detected at an earlier stage.

Despite 73% of respondents saying they look out for changes to the appearance of their breasts, many report that they aren’t confident recognizing the early signs of breast cancer. Moreover, more than half of those surveyed (60%) would hesitate to seek medical advice for a variety of reasons, including embarrassment, fear and not having access to a regular doctor.

Speaking on the launch, Mr Rahul Shanker, Managing Director, Avon India said “Avon is a company built by women, for women and it is our responsibility to bring real value to their lives beyond great products. Today, Avon is the leading corporate supporter of the Breast Cancer cause globally. Many of our representatives, around the world raise funds for breast cancer programs and also provide a global army of educators, offering information and raising awareness around the world.”

Swati Jain, Director of Marketing, Avon India added, “We are proud to be taking this meaningful cause to a local level while touching many lives affected by breast cancer. Globally, we have been supporting this cause for many years and will continue to pledge our support to battle breast cancer. This year, we aim to continue our efforts to educate women about breast cancer with the hopes of saving more lives.”

The survey also found a lack of knowledge when it comes to identifying signs and knowing the risks of breast cancer, which may be due to a lack of information – 30% said that they haven’t been given any information about changes to their breasts that could be a cause for concern. A quarter (25%) think that a lump is the only sign of breast cancer that can be identified without medical equipment.  When asked to identify 10 common symptoms of breast cancer, only 2% managed to select all 10 correctly. There is also low awareness of some of the important lifestyle factors that could prevent breast cancer, with almost two-thirds (64%) unaware that exercise could help lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Similarly, 63% of those surveyed do not know that alcohol consumption is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

Over the last 25 years, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women have donated more than US$800 million globally to breast cancer causes, educated 180 million women about this disease, and funded breast health screenings for nearly 20 million women. Avon will work with a host of educators, partners, health organizations and experts to deliver greater public awareness of breast cancer and make sure every woman knows how to take action. Avon India has already tied up with Indian Cancer Society and I-CONGO, an amalgamation of NGO’s that work to drive action in India. Through the #PayAttention Campaign, and the support of partners such as Indian Cancer Society and I-CONGO, Avon wants to educate women to take out less than five minutes every month to do a breast self-examination.