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Ulster Expert Produces Breast Cancer Booklet

29 November 2010

A booklet to help women with learning disabilities to understand what breast cancer is and the importance of breast mammography has been launched at the University of Ulster.

Produced by Dr Laurence Taggart, from Ulster’s School of Nursing, ‘My Boobs and Me!’ was designed to promote breast awareness for women with learning disabilities.

It uses words and brightly coloured pictures to depict the risk and protective factors of breast cancer, as well as using clear images of the journey through hospital in receiving a mammogram.

In an earlier pilot project funded by the Breast Cancer Campaign in 2009, Dr Taggart’s research showed that women with learning disabilities had problems in understanding what breast cancer was and the importance of attending for a mammogram.

“As part of a team of researchers examining the women’s understanding of breast cancer and breast awareness, many of these women lacked a clear understanding of what breast cancer was,” he said.

“Also many of these women did not clearly understand the process of receiving a mammogram; these women expressed fear and embarrassment. The booklet enables the women to gain a fuller understanding of what beast cancer is, the risk and protective factors, as well describing the journey through receiving the invitation letter to attending for a mammogram in hospital.”

Dr Taggart worked with women with learning disabilities to help him design the booklet. Compass Advocacy Network, a Ballymoney-based charity, also worked with the Ulster lecturer on the project. The charity’s aim is to empower adults with learning disabilities.

“With funding secured from the Breast Cancer Campaign, I produced this booklet. Hopefully it will help women with learning disabilities to recognise and understand the signs and symptoms of breast cancer better and support them in their journey in receiving the mammogram,” Dr Taggart said.

“The booklet will also aid family carers, formal carers working with women with learning disabilities, GP’s, practice nurses, breast screening nurses, radiographers and other healthcare professionals in supporting women with learning disabilities.”

Copies of the booklet will be distributed to all the breast screening units across Northern Ireland and the UK, as well as the community learning disability teams.