Cancerous breasts to be shown in 'shocking' TV advert

Pictures of real women's breasts appear in the ad, presented by actress Elaine C Smith

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A "shocking" new advert is to form the centrepiece of a drive to encourage women to act early if they suspect they have breast cancer.

The online, press, radio and TV campaign shows pictures of real breasts with visible evidence of cancer.

The advert carries the message "lumps aren't the only sign of breast cancer".

It is part of the Scottish government's £30m Detect Cancer Early drive, which aims to increase the early diagnosis of cancer by 25%.

Audrey Birt, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said that as well as lumps, women should look out for other signs including:

  • a general change in the breast
  • an unusual change in the breast
  • changes to size, shape and texture of the breast
  • and discharges coming from the breast

Actress Elaine C Smith, who lost her mother to breast cancer, features in the advert.

Start Quote

For some, the campaign might be shocking but as far as I'm concerned if this saves one life it is absolutely worth it”

End Quote Elaine C Smith Actress

She is seen holding a series of placards illustrating the symptoms of the disease.

Smith added: "I am delighted to have been asked to front this ground-breaking campaign to promote breast cancer awareness in Scotland. For too many years women have been confused and scared about what to look for.

"There are few people in Scotland that remain untouched by cancer, either directly or in their circle of family and friends, so anything that helps early detection and treatment can only be a good thing.

"I lost my own mum to breast cancer and I know that if she had seen this campaign she would have known what she was looking for and perhaps visited the doctor and been checked much earlier.

"For some, the campaign might be shocking but as far as I'm concerned if this saves one life it is absolutely worth it."

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the campaign represented a "bold approach" but she said it was important to get the message across that detecting breast cancer was not all about finding a lump.

My breast cancer story

Name: Jennifer Gossman, from West Kilbride in North Ayrshire

Age: 64

"In February 2009 I had a routine mammogram which came back all clear but a few months later I noticed something that worried me.

"I was cleaning my teeth before I went in the shower and happened to look in the mirror and notice that my right nipple was slightly flatter than my left one.

"I then examined it a bit closer and discovered some crusting around the nipple.

"When I found out that I had breast cancer my initial thought was that I had to get it fixed. I was 62 years old when I was diagnosed and I didn't want to die so I decided that I just had to deal with it. I was determined to be positive.

"Having cancer isn't a death sentence and people must realise that the prognosis for cancer is much better nowadays. If you spot anything that could be cancer then you need to go to your doctor immediately. My doctor was great and took my concerns very seriously. I'm so glad that I acted on what I found as soon as possible.

"I still attend yearly visits to the consultant to get a mammogram but the cancer hasn't returned. I lead a hectic and enjoyable life. I swim most days, go for long walks, do the gardening and look after my grandchildren.

"It's the simple things in life that I now appreciate the most. I take great pleasure watching my granddaughter go horse riding and since being diagnosed with cancer I've also welcomed my new grandson James into the world."

She said: "More lives can be saved in Scotland through earlier detection, as the cancer can be treated earlier when it is less aggressive and treatment is more likely to be successful.

"I hope that this drive will get people talking about breast cancer, and encourage people to become more aware of the signs and symptoms."

In addition to the publicity campaign, an additional £12m in government money is being invested in upgrading breast screening equipment across Scotland.

The funds will be invested in replacing analogue mammography machines with digital units over the next three years.

The television advert will be shown post 21:00 on Tuesday, with radio, online and press advertisements also running for four weeks.

Ms Sturgeon met breast cancer survivors Jennifer Gossman and Alison Walker to officially launch the initiative.

Edinburgh resident Ms Walker was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy.

Her message at the launch was that women needed to be "more breast aware".

Ms Walker said: "I think it's vital to know your body and know how your breasts should look or feel. It then gives you confidence about noticing any changes and seeking professional advice immediately.

"This campaign is all about detecting cancer early and I'm so lucky that my cancer was caught early. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment may be, so we should all be more breast aware."

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