Marilyn O’Connell, front, with colleagues Alex Aves, Nicki Ward and Linda Mallett in the new breast unit. Picture: Tony Jones.

An assistant practitioner in breast screening at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been recognised for her work on a ‘taboo’ subject. 

Marilyn O’Connell, of King’s Lynn, has been named radiographer of the year for the Eastern region by the Society of Radiographers after researching under-breast soreness.

“I couldn’t believe I had won the award but the main thing for me is raising awareness of this issue and getting a better understanding of it out there,” she said.

Under-breast soreness is an uncomfortable condition, affecting one in five women,  which usually starts as a sweat rash under the breast.

The work and research undertaken by Mrs O’Connell is now informing women about the condition in a leaflet, which is to be used by other breast screening units and health authorities throughout the country.

“For many women this is a taboo subject and I want to change that,” she said.

“Some women get depressed about it, some feel dirty and one or two have asked if it is the start of breast cancer.”

In January and February of this year, Mrs O’Connell and a team at the QEH breast screening unit completed an eight-week research study into the problem affecting women, commonly known as intertrigo.

During this research period, a questionnaire given to 1,643 women, showed that up to 55 percent had never heard of under-breast soreness and 90 percent had not seen any information on it.

Mrs O’Connell has been at the QEH since 2007 and was praised by chief executive Dorothy Hosein for her work.

“Marilyn is a tremendous credit to the hospital and her work is making a huge difference to the lives of so many women in West Norfolk and beyond,” she said.