My View, Nick Tupper: Belles helping the fight against breast cancer

Doncaster Belles player Sue Smith and Kasia Lipka with Pat Knight and Pat Barbour
Doncaster Belles player Sue Smith and Kasia Lipka with Pat Knight and Pat Barbour

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England, with over 41,000 cases being diagnosed each year.

Doncaster women account for around 250 new cases of the disease each year.So it has a big impact, not only on a lot of local women, but also on their friends and family.

However, the good news is that if breast cancer is detected early it is more treatable – so finding it quickly could be a lifesaver.

Breast cancer survival tends to be lower in older women and research shows they are more likely to put off making an appointment with their GP if they suspect they may have the symptoms.Other research indicates that older women have less knowledge about the other signs of breast cancer.

They often assume that a lump is the only sign of the disease. In reality, there are many possible signs of breast cancer, including a lump or thickening in your armpit; changes to the skin of your breast; changes to the shape or size of your breast; nipple changes; nipple discharge; pain in your breast; or any other unusual or persistent changes to your breast.

Whatever your age, and even if you attend screening, it’s important to be breast aware. If you find anything unusual, don’t wait for your next screening appointment, see your GP straightaway to be on the safe side.

In early September we’ll launch a campaign targeting Doncaster women, with the headline: Be breast aware. Pass it on. The key message is: If you are aware of any change in your breasts from what is normal for you, tell your doctor without delay.

We’re trying to build on the success we had last season with Doncaster Rovers, who partnered us on campaigns to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of bowel, lung and prostate cancers. This season our partners are the successful Doncaster Belles football team. Two of their star players – Sue Smith and Kasia Lipka – took time out of their busy diaries to take part in a photocall with Coun Pat Knight, from Hatfield, who has just completed breast cancer treatment after spotting the warning signs early. Coun Knight, who is chair of the Doncaster Health and Wellbeing Board, has agreed to be our ambassador for the campaign and has a good, positive story to tell. Also featured on the publicity photo is Dr Pat Barbour from The Medical Centre in Doncaster, GP champion for the campaign.You’ll be seeing a lot more of the group as we work with colleagues at Doncaster Council and local NHS trusts to put the spotlight on breast cancer.

In the meantime, get to know the breast cancer signs and symptoms and pass it on.

Let’s spread the message far and wide.

* Nick Tupper, Chairman, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group