Majority of women do not know early signs of breast cancer, finds global survey by Avon

– Less than half (42%) are confident that they know what changes to their breast could be a sign of cancer

– A quarter (25%) think that a lump is the only sign of breast cancer that can be identified without medical equipment

– Avon Breast Cancer Promise launches today, a multi-year commitment to educating women about the disease

LONDON, Sept. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Only two in five people (42%) are confident about recognising the changes to their breasts that could be a sign of cancer, according to a new survey of 19,000 respondents by Avon Products, Inc., the world’s leading social selling company[i]. The findings also show there is a knowledge gap amongst women globally about what the symptoms are for breast cancer and how to lower the risk of developing the disease.

The World Health Organization estimates that breast cancer kills more than 500,000 women globally every year, a number that could be greatly reduced if cancer were detected at an earlier stage.

Despite 73% of respondents saying they look out for changes to the appearance of their breasts, many report that they aren’t confident recognising the early signs of breast cancer. Moreover, more than half of those surveyed (60%) would hesitate to seek medical advice for a variety of reasons, including embarrassment, fear and not having access to a regular doctor.

The survey also found a lack of knowledge when it comes to identifying signs and knowing the risks of breast cancer, which may be due to a lack of information — 30% said that they haven’t been given any information about changes to their breasts that could be a cause for concern. A quarter (25%) think that a lump is the only sign of breast cancer that can be identified without medical equipment.  When asked to identify 10 common symptoms of breast cancer, only 2% managed to select all 10 correctly.[ii]

There is also low awareness of some of the important lifestyle factors that could prevent breast cancer, with almost two-thirds (64%) unaware that exercise could help lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Similarly, 63% of those surveyed do not know that alcohol consumption is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

Over the last 25 years, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women[iii] have donated more than US$800 million globally to breast cancer causes, educated 180 million women about this disease, and funded breast health screenings for nearly 20 million women.

The research comes as Avon launches its new Breast Cancer Promise, a renewed multi-year commitment to educating women about breast health that builds on its legacy of supporting the breast cancer cause. Avon will work with a host of educators, partners, health organisations and experts to deliver greater public awareness of breast cancer and make sure every woman knows how to take action.

Sheri McCoy, Avon CEO, said: “Early detection is crucial to fighting breast cancer, yet our survey found that women don’t know their risks or what signs to look for. We want to change this lack of knowledge by using the power of our global network of women — 6 million Avon Representatives and more than 26,000 Associates – and our breast cancer partners, to educate women. Our Promise outlines our long-term commitment to ensure every woman is breast health aware, every day.”

Dr Paul Goss, Chairman of the Avon Foundation Scientific Advisory Board and Director of Breast Cancer Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “These figures show just how much work still has to be done in raising awareness of breast cancer, particularly its signs, risks and how to act on concerns about it. Awareness is essential, since it ensures that breast cancer is detected at an early stage.  Early detection is the most effective way of saving lives, it is crucial to tackling breast cancer.”

The Avon Breast Cancer Promise will see the world’s leading social selling company commit to:

  • Working in partnership with charities and breast cancer experts to activate the largest global movement focused on making sure everybody is aware of and understands their breast cancer risks.
  • Galvanising its network of six million Avon Representatives and using its brochures and digital tools to help 50 million women a year — 250 million women over the next five years — recognise the early signs of breast cancer.
  • Helping every woman know when and where to seek medical advice, through connecting them with local health services and charities, or through Avon-funded helplines and mammogram screenings.

The Avon Breast Cancer Promise

Breast health aware. Every woman. Every day.

Early detection of breast cancer saves lives. At Avon, we believe that no woman should die because she was left in the dark about breast cancer.

Too many women still don’t know enough about this disease. Join us to help change this. 

Together we will…

 …help every woman know the risks…

 …so, no matter her age, she understands the risks of developing breast cancer, and what she can do to manage them.

 …help every woman know the signs…

 …so she knows what breast health means for her, and can recognise the early signs of breast cancer.

 …help every woman know how to take action…

 …so she can seek help and medical advice when it’s needed.

Join us.

Avon. Beauty for a Purpose.

For more information, go to:

About Avon Products, Inc.

Avon is the Company that for 130 years has proudly stood for beauty, innovation, optimism and, above all, women. Avon products include well-recognized and beloved brands such as ANEW, Avon Color, Avon Care, Skin-So-Soft, and Advance Techniques sold through nearly 6 million active independent Avon Sales Representatives.

[i] Avon surveyed more than 19,000 people from 15 countries in which it operates – including Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Turkey and the UK – on their knowledge of breast cancer and the disease’s risks.

[ii] Breast Cancer Awareness Measure developed by Cancer Research UK, King’s College London and University College London in 2009 and validated with the support of Breast Cancer Care and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

[iii] The Avon Foundation for Women is the world’s largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on issues that matter most to women.  Since its inception in 1955, the Avon Foundation has promoted or aided charitable, scientific, educational, and humanitarian activities, with a special emphasis on activities that improve the lives of women and their families. Through 2016, Avon and the Avon Foundation have contributed over $1 billion in over 50 countries. Today, Avon global philanthropy programs focus on funding breast cancer research and advancing access to quality care through the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, and efforts to reduce domestic and gender violence through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program. Visit for more information.