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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Poor 'in dark' over breast cancer
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Poorer women were less likely to access information
Women from poorer backgrounds in Scotland suffer more anxiety following treatment for breast cancer, a study has found.

Research by Glasgow University and Cancer Research UK Scotland examined women of different social status, who had been treated for breast cancer.

Previous studies have shown that women with more affluent lifestyles have better breast cancer survival rates.

Experts believe information and support may be key to enhanced quality of life.

The discovery of different levels of anxiety and support has prompted calls for more tailored delivery of services and advice.

Dr Una Macleod, senior lecturer of community based sciences at the University of Glasgow, said: "This study, for the first time, throws light on the differences in where women from deprived and affluent areas find their information.

It is vital that information is tailored to the audience and targeted to those who need it most
Dr Lesley Walker
Cancer Research UK
"The less privileged group were less likely to seek information from their specialist or breast cancer nurse.

"This may be partly due to the constraints of attending hospital appointments which might include things like the cost of travel, child care and loss of wages."

The reasons for the difference ranged from not knowing where to look for information, to a lack of time.

The study also found that poorer women were more likely to suffer from anxiety regarding money, other health problems and family issues.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer for women in Scotland, with more than 3,600 cases diagnosed annually.

Advice 'gap'

In the study, 177 Glasgow women were questioned about their knowledge of breast cancer.

Affluent women were more likely than women in deprived areas to report getting information and support from their hospital specialist or breast cancer nurse.

Only 40% of poorer women reported using breast cancer nurses as an information source compared with 70% of affluent women.

Overall, the women said they were most likely to receive information from their specialist.

The study found that 76% of women from deprived areas asked their specialist for information compared with 95% of affluent women.

Media source

Examining the media as a source of information, nearly half of affluent women cited newspapers as a source compared with fewer than a quarter of poorer women.

Over half of the affluent women also cited magazines compared with fewer than a third of poorer women.

Other sources, leaflets and television news, also followed this trend with a larger percentage of affluent than poorer women using them.

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK's director of cancer information, said: "It is vital that information is tailored to the audience and targeted to those who need it most.

"All women, regardless of where they live, should have access to the best possible information and support."

The results of the study are being published in this week's British Journal of Cancer.


SEE ALSO:
Drop in breast cancer death rate
27 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Women missing out on cancer tests
16 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Breast cancer ignorance revealed
19 Sep 03  |  Health
Women ignore breast cancer signs
01 Sep 03  |  Health


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