Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has released new research on breast cancer awareness, attitudes, and misconceptions in Asia-Pacific to honour the 30th anniversary of the Breast Cancer Campaign.

The Breast Cancer campaign is a cornerstone of ELC’s social investment in women’s advancement and health, bringing people from all over the world together to make a difference in the global breast cancer community. 

Matthew Growdon, Senior Vice President and General Manager, APAC, The Estée Lauder Companies says, “In Asia-Pacific, there is still a need to increase education about breast cancer, as well as improve access to professional breast cancer screenings as financial concerns often deter women from going for checkups. Together with our passionate employees and community partners throughout the region, we are committed to making a positive impact to help end breast cancer.”

In September 2022, the research was conducted in collaboration with Nielsen using an online survey among 6,000 women aged 25-49 across 12 APAC markets. Breast cancer is becoming more common in Asia-Pacific, where it has the highest incidence and mortality rate.

Limited Understanding Of Breast Self-Examination 

Monthly breast self-examinations are an important first step in detecting early signs of breast cancer. Menstruating women should do this a few days after their period, and women should check their breasts for any changes.

In Asia-Pacific, 30% of women polled said they were unsure about breast self-examination, and only a quarter knew the best time of the month. This figure is much higher in Japan, where 67% of respondents are concerned about performing their own breast exams.

There are still cultural taboos about the disease in many markets. Tests are avoided by 32% of Singaporeans and 44% of Malaysian women due to embarrassment. In fact, many people who have or have had breast cancer stated that they discovered it by chance, such as while attending a doctor’s appointment for another reason.

Misconceptions About Prevention

Women in APAC believe they have a clear understanding of breast cancer prevention and symptoms, but myths about risk factors and symptoms persist. More than 40% of those polled are aware that having a family history of breast cancer, as well as being under a lot of stress, raises the risk of developing the disease. 

However, less than 30% of those polled are aware that smoking and drinking alcohol increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Simultaneously, one-fifth of APAC women believe that wearing a wired bra raises their risk of breast cancer. This is especially true among Filipinos (42%), Indonesians (30%), Thais (24%), and Malaysians (22%).

Support Plays A Part

Almost half of those polled believe their partners are uninformed about breast cancer, and the vast majority (85%) believe partners should be more informed. Many women believe that professional mental health support (64%) and nutritional advice from a dietician (55%) would be beneficial to patients during and after their recovery process.

Fortunately, women in the region are becoming more involved about breast cancer, and awareness has grown in recent years. The new study, conducted as part of ELC’s Breast Cancer Campaign, found that 72% of women in 12 APAC markets are aware of breast cancer, a seven-point increase from the previous study in 2015.

Nonetheless, many women are still hesitant to have regular medical checkups for fear of being diagnosed, and many are concerned about the financial cost.

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