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Breast cancer talk helps Asian women break cultural taboos

PUBLISHED: 17:05 05 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:05 05 August 2015

Saroj Sethi with some of the women at the event. Picture: Kreshany Manoharajah

Saroj Sethi with some of the women at the event. Picture: Kreshany Manoharajah

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Discussion was in Punjabi

ELDERLY Asian women in Gravesend were helped to understand more about breast cancer at an awareness event – which featured a talk in Punjabi.

The Guru Nanak Day Centre, which is associated with the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara temple, hosted the event, called Be Clear on Cancer, last Thursday.

A third of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 70 – but language barriers and cultural and religious issues can mean Asian women don’t go to their doctor with symptoms as quickly as they should.

Saroj Sethi, who chairs Macmillan Cancer’s Support’s Asian Cancer Support Group and has herself survived breast cancer, said:

“It was encouraging to see so many elderly Asian ladies turn out for this event - the response was great.

“There are cultural taboos and embarrassment associated with discussion and education about breast cancer among older Asian women.

“But we need to talk about the risks and symptoms of breast cancer more openly to increase our understanding of the disease.

“A lump isn’t the only symptom; other symptoms could include changes to your breast shape, size, skin or nipple, discharge or pain. If you notice any changes to your breasts, tell your doctor straightaway - early diagnosis and treatment can save lives, and I’m living proof of this.”

Swaran Singh, vice-president of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, added:

“We were very pleased to host the event and many ladies travelled from Dartford and beyond.

“Breast cancer can be successfully treated if women with symptoms go to their GP straightaway. These events are a great help in getting our community to discuss their health more openly.”

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/breastcancer70.

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