Woman thanks radio campaign for early breast cancer diagnosis

Diane Browning was prompted to get an unusual lump under her arm checked after hearing radio presenter talking about cancer.

Woman thanks Scottish Government radio campaign for early breast cancer diagnosis Contributed

A woman diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer has credited a government campaign for her cancer being found at an earlier stage.

Diane Browning, 56 from Edinburgh, was prompted to get an unusual lump under her arm checked in March 2023 after hearing the Scottish Government’s campaign on the radio.

Following surgery and radiotherapy, the mum-of-one is now looking to the future and sharing her story to encourage people with possible cancer symptoms not to delay contacting their GP practice.

The “Be the Early Bird” campaign, back on screens and on air from this week, reinforces the benefits of finding cancer at an earlier stage when there’s more treatment options available, a greater likelihood of living well after treatment and better news to tell the family.

Targeting those aged 40 and over, the campaign reinforces the fact that GP practices want to know if people have unusual, persistent symptoms, which could include unexplained bleeding, unusual lumps, unexplained weight loss or something that doesn’t feel normal for them.

Diane made an appointment with her GP practice and from there was referred to the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh for further tests. Her early stage breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed at the end of April and she underwent surgery in May, followed by five sessions of radiotherapy in July.

Diane said: “I always listen to Forth 1 and when I heard the presenter Arlene talking to Fiona who had been through a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, it resonated with me.

“The way Fiona was talking about her experience made me think that I needed to do something about the lump I’d recently found, sooner rather than later.

“I believe that things happen for a reason. I heard the interview at exactly the right time. I wasn’t overly concerned at that point, but I kept hearing it and took it as a sign not to delay.

“I feel very fortunate my cancer was found so early and treated quickly. I am grateful that my GP acted quickly and the care and compassion I received from the NHS was amazing. I’m here, I’m healthy and I’m not going to lie down and let what happened take over.

“If you have any concerns, don’t delay making an appointment with your GP practice. If it turns out to be nothing serious, then that’s great.

“From that first appointment, I was listened to and my concerns were taken seriously. It can be daunting, but as my story shows, finding it early can make all the difference. I have the Early Bird campaign to thank for making me take that first step.”

Health secretary Michael Matheson said: “The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat – and cure – which is why we continue to invest in our Detect Cancer Earlier (DCE) Programme.

“The ‘Be the Early Bird’ campaign has already helped people like Diane seek help and, in her instance, find cancer earlier. We would encourage anyone, particularly those aged over 40, with unusual, persistent symptoms to contact their GP practice.”

GP Dr Carey Lunan said: “Finding and treating cancer as early as possible is a priority for the NHS in Scotland. If you have unusual, persistent symptoms that you’re worried about, we would encourage you to get in touch with your GP practice.

“Your initial appointment may be over the phone, but we’ll always ask you to come in for a face-to-face appointment if an examination or tests are needed.

“Please don’t delay contacting your GP practice, as there’s more we can do to help if cancer is found at an earlier stage.”

People can find out more about possible cancer symptoms at getcheckedearly.org.

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