GP surgeries should help women understand the proper signs and symptoms of breast cancer, says charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
The charity’s survey of 1,190 women shows that a quarter wrongly believe that having a persistent cough was a sign of breast cancer.
Another 81% wrongly think that a mole on the breast could be a sign and a third consider having an extra nipple indication of the disease.
The survey as part of the “Show your breasts some TLC: touch look check” campaign also found that although 87% of over 50s check their breasts for lumps, many remain unaware of the full range of symptoms.
The charity is calling on GP surgeries to clear up the widespread confusion by postering their surgeries with awareness notices.
These demonstrate that women should be looking for inversions of the nipple, nipple discharge and changes in the skin or size and shape of the breast.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, says: “It’s clear that despite breast cancer now being the most common cancer in the UK, women remain extremely confused about what they should be looking out for – with their focus still very much on feeling for breast lumps.”
He adds that misunderstanding is also rife among women aged 70 years and over, saying, “we would like to see more GP surgeries making patients in this age group aware that they can, and should, make their own regular breast screening appointments.”