Many Dutch women can't recognize breast cancer symptoms: study

Breast cancer awareness ribbon
Breast cancer awareness ribbon. (Photo: OtnaYdur/DepositPhotos)

The majority of Dutch women do not know how to recognize signs of breast cancer, according to a study by the Alexander Monro Hospital among 400 women. Over 70 percent don't know that looking at their breasts is more important than feeling them, the researchers found. 20 percent of women never check their breasts and another 20 percent don't go to the doctor immediately if they notice changes, AD reports.

"The figures confirm what we often hear: there is still plenty of misunderstandings about 'self-examination'. The mantra 'feel your breasts once a month' is stuck, while we as professionals already know that it is more important to look well at your breasts", Marjolein de Jong, director and oncology surgeon at the hospital, said to the newspaper. "Moreover, women are still reluctant to go to the doctor. Fear plays a role, but also the feeling that they are a 'nag'."

There are a number of signals that women can only pick up if they visually examine their breasts, such as persistent flaking skin, rashes, redness, or nipple fluid, De Jong said. "Women often think that: oh well, a little inflammation or eczema will pass. And, no, these things don't necessarily have to point to breast cancer, but you have to be alert to it and have yourself examined."

The Alexander Monro Hospital, which specializes in breast cancer treatment, decided to launch a 'Know your breasts' campaign. De Jong stressed that the chances of survival for breast cancer are much greater the earlier you are diagnosed. 

In the Netherlands around 3,200 women die per year of breast cancer. One in seven to eight women is affected by the disease.