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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Mothers avoid breast cancer chat
Older mother and daughter
Older women are less likely to have discussed cancer with their daughters
Breast cancer is still a taboo subject between many mothers and daughters - even though discussing it could save lives.

A MORI poll conducted for two leading UK cancer charities discovered that more than a third of young women said their mothers had never talked about the disease to them.

Doctors can now predict how likely it is that a woman will develop breast cancer simply from her family history, and how many of her relatives have died from the disease.

However, many women do not know that great-grandmothers or even grandmothers were victims, simply because they have not been told.


The bond between a parent and a daughter can be very strong, and mums can be a valuable source of guidance and information

Professor Jane Wardle, Imperial Cancer Research Fund
Things have improved significantly in recent years.

But almost two-thirds of women aged 50 to 65 said they had never discussed breast cancer with their mother.

Information campaigns mean that most young women now realise the importance of noticing changes in their breasts, such as a lump, which may indicate disease.

Doctors and television

Almost four in 10 of the younger women had received information about breast cancer from the doctor, and a quarter from television programmes.

Professor Jane Wardle, head of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's Health Behaviour Unit, said: "Our survey shows that breast cancer is now talked about more openly and hopefully, if a woman notices changes in her breasts she would know to seek help quickly from her GP.

"The bond between a parent and a daughter can be very strong, and mums can be a valuable source of guidance and information.

"The survey indicates that about a quarter of young women consider their mother a good source of information about breast cancer."

Women are now finding out about the disease at a younger age, with most now hearing about it for the first time between the ages of 10 and 19 compared to between 19 and 34.

Approximately 10,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.

The sooner the cancer is detected, the less chance it will have had to spread, and the more likely it is to be cured.

In the UK, seven out of 10 breast cancer patients are surviving at least five years.

See also:

06 Feb 01 | Health
Breast screen success 'will rise'
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