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Last Updated: Monday, 29 November, 2004, 08:24 GMT
Women 'unaware' of cancer risk
Woman being screened for breast cancer
Almost a fifth of women say they do not check their breasts regularly
Most women in Wales are unaware of the risks of breast cancer, a survey has found.

The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade found most wrongly believed the 25-50 age group was most at risk. In fact, 80% of cases are aged over 50.

A third of women do not realise they have a one in nine chance of developing the disease.

An Avon spokeswoman urged all women to talk frankly to friends and female relatives about breast cancer.

The survey took place in the run-up to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October when the disease was highlighted by charities, the media and companies involved in fundraising.

Some women, too many, are... slipping through the net and therefore need to be reached some other way
Andrea Slater, Avon Breast Cancer Crusade

The results come a week after the BBC Wales News website revealed that a 37-year-old Cardiff woman who was told she had to wait 17 weeks for screening after finding a lump in her breast later discovered she had cancer following a private test.

Avon Breast Cancer Crusade said the findings showed that the message that early diagnosis of breast cancer saves lives did not appear to be getting through to all women.

Its study found that 61% of women in Wales incorrectly identified the 25-50 age group as most at risk.

Further, it found 18% of those questioned admitted either that they do not check their breasts regularly, or are looking only for lumps or skin colour changes in the breast and underarm areas.

Avon advised that women should be looking for anything that is unusual for them, such as a lump or mole, skin irritation, dimpling, nipple pain, swelling, redness or scaliness of the breast area, or leakage (other than breast milk).

Andrea Slater, vice-president of marketing at Avon, said: "I think there's been an assumption that, because so much is being done by involved parties to educate women on breast awareness, the message must be getting through, but this doesn't appear to be the case for all.

'Talk openly'

"What these figures tell us is that some women, too many, are not being reached by the traditional methods, are slipping through the net and therefore need to be reached some other way.

"We urge all women to talk openly and frankly to their friends and female relatives about breast cancer and breast awareness so that they can inform themselves and pass the message on to educate others."

Last week Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust released a statement saying they could "only apologise" for the distress caused to the Cardiff woman who discovered she had breast cancer following a private test.

A spokeswoman said additional short-term clinics been had running at the University Hospital of Wales and neighbouring trusts for several weeks.

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said the trust had reassured health minister Jane Hutt that the required 10-day target for a mammogram would be met by February.

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