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Volunteers sought for breast cancer projects

26 April 2010 @TeessideUni


Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with approximately 125 women diagnosed daily.

It accounts for 18% of all cancers in females and claimed the lives of 12,082 women in 2007.

Despite these stark statistics, regular breast self-examination by UK women is not widespread.

Nicola Smith, a PhD student at Teesside University is undertaking a research project which explores this issue, and is seeking women from across the UK to take part in her study.

In addition, fellow PhD student Judith Eberhardt is looking at whether psychological factors such as bereavement could contribute towards breast cancer. Judith is also looking for women to volunteer and take part in her separate research project.

Nicola said: 'We’ve always been aware of the importance of breast examination in our family as my Nan, Joyce Hughes, died of breast cancer. Regularly checking your own breasts can ensure that breast cancer is detected early and give women the best chance to fight the disease.

'Women should examine their breasts monthly but anecdotally there is a very low rate of the UK’s women engaging in this. My study aims to find out why this is the case as there’s no concrete data and to look at determining the best way of promoting and teaching breast self-examination.'

Nicola’s study will take place on the internet, on a specifically-designed website. Women can take part from their own home and all information provided will be confidential and completely anonymous.

More information about the study can be found by visiting, or by emailing Nicola at

Links between emotional and physical health Judith’s project is examining links between emotional and physical health. She said: 'When looking at breast cancer, health promotions usually focus on factors such as diet and exercise to help towards the possible prevention of the disease. They don’t look at psychological factors, such as emotional isolation, loneliness, bereavement, being the loss of loved ones or pets, repressed feelings or lack of support. But all of these have a role to play in contributing towards the disease.' As with Nicola’s research, Judith has developed an online programme for women to share their experiences. All responses take place on the Internet and involve activities such as art, poem and story reading, laughter for well-being, and other elements to improve women’s emotional well-being. Again, women can take part from home and participation is free, completely anonymous and confidential.

To take part visit or email Judith at The only requirement for both projects is that women who respond are over the age of 18. Both projects have a further 18 months to run before completion.

In the News

Volunteers sought for breast cancer projects
News Letter (Belfast), 27/05/2010, p.22
Teesside University PhD student Nicola Smith is involved in a research project aimed at exploring the issue of self-breast examination.

Breast cancer mission
East Cleveland Herald & Post, 13/05/2010, p.6
Volunteers are being sought by Teesside University researchers currently investigating the parameters of breast cancer diagnosis.

Breast cancer mission
Middlesbrough Herald & Post, 13/05/2010, p.6
Researchers at Teesside University are seeking volunteers who could help them to make major breakthroughs in breast cancer diagnosis.

You can help to fight breast cancer
Evening Gazette (Teesside), 01/05/2010, p.9,
Teesside University students undertaking research into breast cancer are looking for female volunteers to take part. One study explores why self-examination is not widespread and the other looks into

Students appeal for help with research
Northern Echo (North Edition), 28/04/2010, p.18
Teesside University PhD students are seeking women from across Britain to take part in a study relating to the sparse phenomenon of personal breast examination.