WITH one in eight women suffering breast cancer at some point in their lives, France’s Octobre Rose cancer awareness campaign starts today with a new call for women to check themselves.
The earlier a cancer is detected the easier it can be treated and the better the chance of success – but there are still 50,000 cases of breast cancer a year in France.
Although all women between 50 and 74 get reminders in the post from the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie every two years to get a paid-for mammography, the aim of Octobre Rose is to get younger women to do their own checks.
The CNAM campaign is targeted at women with one risk factor – their age – but the Octobre Rose campaign by the association Cancer du Sein, Parlons-en! calls on women to get mammographies from a younger age.
If done individually they can cost from €200-€300 but under-50s women should consult their GP or gynaecologist to get a prescription for a mammography and part of this cost will be paid for by the social security and – depending on the complementary health insurance – the rest by the mutuelle.
Octobre Rose says mammography is better than women checking for lumps themselves at home – although this is also a vital regular task – as the breast X-rays taken allow tumours to be found at a very small size.
They are much easier to treat with a success rate of nine out of 10 and Dr Séverine Alerand of the Institut Curie says that small tumours can even be operated on as day surgery.
The website www.cancerdusein.org g gives information (in French) on Octobre Rose events and advice on dealing with cancer.
• Men should also do their own fingertip checks for breast cancer as they are more at risk of not being diagnosed, even by a GP. One in 100 breast cancer cases in France is male, but because the diagnosis is made later they have a reduced chance of survival and a greater chance of metastases spreading.