Cancer group asks women to be brazen online

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - Canadian women are being asked to bare their breasts online in a brazenly novel campaign meant to keep them cancer-free.

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Hundreds of women have already uploaded their images -- including at least 20 breast cancer survivors who have had visible mastectomies.

“This is a creative, different, bold, a bit in-your-face way of getting young women’s attention,” M.J. DeCouteau, executive director at Rethink Breast Cancer told Reuters.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a lot of women doing it.”

Rethink, a breast-cancer charity for young people, is launching the campaign to try to educate young women about breast cancer to make them more aware, but also to take some of the fear away.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in young women between the ages of 15 and 40, according to Rethink, and nearly one-quarter of all breast cancers occur in women under age 50.

However, when breast cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate for young women is 82 percent, it said.

As part of Rethink’s “touch, look, check” (TLC) early detection program, women are being asked to do just -- “show their breasts some TLC”.

The site teaches women how to check their breasts for abnormalities, DeCouteau said, which is important because most women do find the first lump themselves.

Once women examine their breasts, they are being asked to take photos of their breasts -- whether fully clothed, in a bra or topless -- and upload those pictures to the Booby Wall at the Web site

DeCouteau said the wall is secure, anonymous and completely confidential, although participants can add their first name, comments or a dedication to a loved one lost to breast cancer.

She said the site will likely attract the online social networking generation, such as users of Facebook, but she isn’t worried about peeping toms.

“We really believed the benefit of getting information out to young women outweighed any men who were checking it out for their own reasons,” DeCouteau said.

Women of all ages, shapes and sizes, as well those as from outside Canada, are welcome to participate in the Booby Wall, DeCouteau said.

Editing by Rob Wilson