Today I want to talk to you about a topic close that is close to my heart, and that is my boobs. Or boobs in general really. Did you know that in 2012, breast cancer was the most common type of cancer in women worldwide with nearly 1.7 million new cases? Or that it is the number one type of cancer for women? (World Cancer Research Fund, 2016). We all know that October is the worldwide Breast Cancer Awareness month, but in my personal opinion, you should be aware of every day. This also includes you males out there!
Breast cancer in males are not as common as in females, but that does not mean that they should not be aware of the disease. According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, it’s estimated that about 2600 males will develop breast cancer in 2016, and 440 of males will die of the disease. About 1/1000 males are at risk of developing the disease, and the numbers have been relativly stable for the last 30 years (American Cancer Society, 2016a)
In the UK, women between the age of 50-70 get an automatic invitation every three years to perform a mammography because this group has the highest risks of developing the disease. That still leaves out a whole lot of women who have to request one themselves from their GP, which can be a daunting thing to do because they might fear the results. The method itself might also be a bit frightening as it requires the woman to undress in front of strangers and get her breast squashed between two plates, but despite this mammography is highly effective in detecting small lumps that might be too small to be seen or felt (NHS, 2015).
So how can you prevent breast cancer? I’m sad to tell you that there is no magic herbal tea, no superfood and no vitamins you can take, but there are ways to lower your risks. Body weight, physical activity, and diet have all been linked to breast cancer, so healthy choices food and drink wise, and regular exercise has to be done. The medical options are to use drugs such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, but these have their own side effects, and lastly the option is to remove your breast (American Cancer Society, 2016b).
If you are not getting automatic invitations from your GP already, the best thing you can do is to perform self-checks at home, and I know it sounds like a time-consuming task that has to be done so regularly, but you know what? It takes five minutes, and one of the ways doctors say is the best way is in the shower because the soap makes the areas smooth and can help you feel the lumps.
I came across this touching video last month on Facebook, and I hope you’ll watch the whole video.
This video was a part of the #ITouchMyselfProject that was started by the Cancer Council in Australia as a PSA encouraging women to perform self-checks. The song in the video is from Divinyls who in 2013 lost their lead singer Chrissy Amphlett to breast cancer, and in her final interview she expressed a wish to make this song an anthem for breast cancer. The women in the video are all Australian singers lending their voice and faces to this video. The website for this project is at the moment not up yet as they are updating it, but when it was up you could choose you age and cup size, and get tailored information on how to detect breast cancer. This project actually had 80% changed behaviour through the use of the website, and 47% of Australian women saw the video within the first two weeks.
So I am a huge fan of superheroes, and this video was released as part of a promo campaign for the Deadpool movie that came out in February 2016. I have to make a disclaimer here as there is some crude humour in this video and it might not be funny for everyone, but it does actually give a pretty good explanation of how to do it. Take a look at it here:
So to defend the humour used in this video if you were not a fan of it, the character in the video is known for this type of humour so the target audience would respond well to this, and in my personal opinion it makes the topic less scary for me. And the instructions are actually pretty good, so if this method can help drive the numbers of performed self-checks up, then it is a good one don’t you agree?
Another way to nudge women to perform self-checks is to remind them that it can happen to them. No one is invulnerable to this disease. In 2011 the ALCC Vodacom MFW campaign featured well-known superheroes such as Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, Storm and Catwoman checking their breast for signs of cancer. Together with DDB Mozambique, the company wanted to target the younger generation of women by depicting well-known characters performing a self-check to remind the audience that everyone is vulnerable to developing breast cancer. Here is the campaign:
In my 27 years on this planet, I have had a couple of friends who found a couple of lumps in their breasts which luckily turned out to be benign. A few of years ago I met one of my friends who was at the time undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and she had her final treatment last year, and I must applaud her bravery and her partner and family for staying so strong as it was indeed a battle. These incidents have had more impact on me than any advertising as they are more real to me, and have made me take this matter more seriously. And so should you! Like I said earlier, it takes you five minutes in the shower, at most, and the sooner you discover something the better chances you have for a full recovery. But do remember to turn the water off so you don’t waste too much, mother nature would certainly appreciate it at least.
Ingrid Berg is a Norwegian person. She loves superheroes, therefore she decided to study social marketing to help save the world. As an avid tech geek, she loves to look at how technology is used and how it can be used in the everyday life.
American Cancer Society. (2016a). What are the key statistics about breast cancer in men?. [online] Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancerinmen/detailedguide/breast-cancer-in-men-key-statistics [Accessed 8 Jul. 2016].
American Cancer Society. (2016b). Can breast cancer be prevented?. [online] Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-prevention [Accessed 6 Jul. 2016].
Nhs. 2015. Breast Cancer Screenings FAQ [Online]. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/breast-cancer-screening/Pages/FAQs.aspx – opt-out [Accessed 30.05 2016].
World Cancer Research Fund. (2016). Worldwide data | World Cancer Research Fund International. [online] Available at: http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/worldwide-data [Accessed 6 Jul. 2016].