Right of Reply: Shamia al-Quadhi

The Chief Executive of the charity Breast Cancer Care answers Jeremy Laurance
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The Independent Culture
JEREMY LAURANCE'S piece ("Spare me breast cancer month", 6 October) doesn't reflect the real world of breast cancer care. The facts about breast cancer justify our level of campaigning.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of female cancer death in England and Wales. There are more than 33,000 new cases each year and 14,000 deaths. It is now estimated that one in 11 women will develop breast cancer at some time in her life.

In all, 90 per cent of palpable breast cancers are found by women or their partners. Early detection is the most important single factor in improving survival from breast cancer and can mean simpler, more successful treatment.

Our charity uses Breast Cancer Awareness Month as an opportunity to inform women, of all age groups of the issues which relate to breast cancer, and to encourage women to get to know their own breasts, to be familiar with what is normal for themselves and to look out for any changes.

Our literature always reminds women that nine out of 10 of these lumps are of no serious concern.

Our helpline, staffed by breast care nurses and trained volunteers who have had breast cancer, takes about 20,000 callers a year, mainly from women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The high demand for our helpline (0500 245 345) demonstrates the need for balanced and accurate information.

Breast awareness should be promoted in the context of general body awareness and be part of a normal health routine. We welcome many of the other public health promotion and awareness campaigns, including this week's Europe Against Cancer Campaign which focuses on men and cancer.

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