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“Bold” breast cancer detection campaign focuses on lesser-known symptoms

“Bold” breast cancer detection campaign focuses on lesser-known symptoms


Scottish actress and comedienne Elaine C. Smith is well-known on British TV, screen and stage. Now, she wants Scottish women to get to know some friends of hers: their breasts.

In a PSA for the Scottish government’s Detect Cancer Early drive Ms. Smith, who lost her mother to breast cancer, stands apparently topless while she lifts placards, Bob Dylan style, showing visible early symptoms of breast cancer in place of her own breasts.

She told the BBC:

“For too many years women have been confused and scared about what to look for. There are few people in Scotland that remain untouched by cancer, either directly or in their circle of family and friends, so anything that helps early detection and treatment can only be a good thing. I lost my own mum to breast cancer and I know that if she had seen this campaign she would have known what she was looking for and perhaps visited the doctor and been checked much earlier.

For some, the campaign might be shocking but as far as I’m concerned if this saves one life it is absolutely worth it.”

Such “shocking” imagery as showing actual bare breasts for non-sexual purposes is unheard of in some places (like the United States) but is common elsewhere. It’s nice to see a government body in a more conservative country doing it in a respectful and sincere way.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon admitted that it was a “bold” approach to get attention, but “More lives can be saved in Scotland through earlier detection, as the cancer can be treated earlier when it is less aggressive and treatment is more likely to be successful. I hope that this drive will get people talking about breast cancer, and encourage people to become more aware of the signs and symptoms.”

It’s a shame they’ll only show it after 9 p.m. on TV, however. That sends the unfortunate message that the images are somehow inappropriate for children, which only reinforces the embarrassment some women feel about the topic. (It’s also age-restricted on YouTube)

In addition to awareness, Scotland is investing an additional £12,000,000 in upgrading breast screening equipment across Scotland.

See the video after the break.

Thanks to Mark B. for the tip.

The Scottish Government/ Riaghaltas na h-Alba
The Leith Agency
Additional credits:
Thanks to Copyranter (Buzzfeed) for identifying the agency.

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more