A quarter of women in London (24%) are putting their health at risk, having either never checked their breasts for cancer or cannot remember the last time they did, according to new research from BUPA and HCA Healthcare UK.
Breast cancer is the UK’s most common type of cancer and has a survival rate of 100% if diagnosed at the earliest stage.
If women do find symptoms, just over two-fifths (42%) admit they would delay a visit to the doctor for medical help. 23% say that they would wait for up to two weeks, and a tenth say they would wait for as long as a month.
Women in London are also more likely than others in the country to be put off entirely from seeking help; either reporting that they would worry about wasting time or that they are too embarrassed to discuss symptoms.
This could be due to a lack of knowledge about breast cancer with only 14% of Londoners able to correctly identify the eight symptoms. These include a lump, breast pain, and nipple changes. Less than half of women in London identified a change in skin colour or texture, or a rash as being symptomatic of the cancer. The other symptoms include a lump in the armpit, nipple changes (including the shape or direction), discharge from the nipple, a change in the skin colour (it may appear red), change in skin texture (it may become dimpled or puckered) and a change in the size and shape of breasts.
Women in London also report more difficulty in accessing medical help for breast concerns than those in other parts of the country. Almost one in five say it’s hard to get a GP appointment (compared with one in seven nationally) and others say that they are too busy or unable to take time off work. Less than a third (29%) polled in London stated that they would be more likely to seek help for breast cancer and related concerns if waiting times for appointments and results were shorter.
In response to this, BUPA and HCA UK are teaming up to launch Specialist Centres in London for breast cancer. These will offer an appointment with a consultant within two working days and all initial diagnostic tests will be completed in just a single appointment. If treatment is needed, it will be provided within 31 days of calling Bupa. That is less than half the time set out in national targets.
Patients using the Specialist Centres will have their treatment planned by an expert multi-disciplinary team that will provide a treatment plan. This will include access to genetic testing and advanced genomics appropriate to the individual.
Patients will benefit from the support of Bupa’s “Oncology Specialist Support Team” and “HCA Healthcare UK”s Clinical Nurse Specialist, as well as the emotional support services provided by BUPA’s team of councillors over the phone, as well as a session for a close family member.
For more information, visit bupa.co.uk