Royal Navy Commander leads pink march to highlight need for increases in breast cancer screening uptake and fundraising

Women from around the UK marched through the streets of London on Sunday in a pink march to encourage people to join the fight for women’s survival. The Cancer Research UK march was led by serving Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Rachel Scandling, who is shortly due to go on active service in Afghanistan. Rachel elected to have a double mastectomy after tests confirmed she carried a gene greatly increasing her chances of cancer.

Eldest Nolan sister Anne and ‘Green Goddess’ Diana Moran, both breast cancer survivors, also took part in the march. The capital was chosen in light of NHS research* which shows that Central and East London has the lowest uptake of screening in the country, with almost half (47 per cent) of women there not attending screenings when invited. The 46 participants, all of whom have been affected by the disease, represented the 46,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK.

Organised by Cancer Research UK, the symbolic march was asking people to join the fight in one of two simple ways: to go for breast screening when invited or to raise money for much needed research into the disease. Screening is hugely important in the fight against breast cancer. Recent research shows that women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, detected through the national screening programme and who then go on to receive treatment, have the same life expectancy as the UK female population as a whole. As a result Cancer Research UK is encouraging women aged 50 and over to attend screening when invited.

The procession, which started at London’s Tower Bridge, brought together women from across the UK, all of whom have a breast cancer link. The group consisted of patients, survivors, relatives of those affected, scientists and doctors dressed head-to-toe in Cancer Research UK’s pink camouflage, illustrating the charity’s ‘Join the fight for women’s survival’ campaign. The pink march ended up at The London Research Institute, one of Cancer Research UK’s world-leading cancer research institutions, which has made significant breakthroughs in breast cancer research and is training the next generation of world-leading scientists.

The marchers were also encouraging women everywhere to raise money for Cancer Research UK to help fight breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. Breast cancer is the most common women’s cancer in the UK, with one in nine women developing the disease at some point in their lives, and Cancer Research UK is the UK’s largest single funder of research into the disease. Thanks to research, along with improved treatment and detection, breast cancer death rates in the UK have fallen by almost a fifth over the last ten years, with two-thirds of women diagnosed today likely to survive for at least 20 years. But with almost 12,000 women still losing their lives to breast cancer each year, Cancer Research UK needs to raise vital funds to push forward with its life-saving research.

Rachel Scandling said: “The pink camouflage army outfit isn’t quite the uniform I’m used to but it was well worth putting it on for such a good cause, and really made everyone involved feel united in the fight for women’s survival. I have had to make some difficult choices in my fight for survival, but breast cancer is a battle that lots of women can win – this is why it’s so important for women everywhere to not only attend their screenings, but also to raise money for Cancer Research UK so that more and more women can on to lead fulfilling lives.”

Diana Moran, aged 70, said: “It’s remarkable to see so many people come together to join the fight for women’s survival. The pink march was very good fun and really uplifting for all the women involved, but it also had a really serious message behind it. It’s worrying that half the women in central London don’t attend their screenings and my message to all women out there is; don’t ignore screening invitations. We can all join the fight for women’s survival by helping to raise funds for important research – we can all do something, from donating £2 a month to organising a pink party.”

To find out how to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month and help raise funds to save lives please visit

For more information contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 0207 061 8300.


*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from the NHS Breast Screening Programme: uptake by women aged 50-64 of invitations to screen, by breast screening unit, 1998-99 to 2007-08

About breast cancer

More than 45,500 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK, and approx 300 cases occur in men

For further information on Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer awareness campaign visit

For more information about cancer, its risks and treatments, visit

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