Doctor Calling: Women over 70 alerted on non-lump breast cancer

A mammogram ' breast cancer screening ' is a simple way of detecting onset of the disease.
A mammogram ' breast cancer screening ' is a simple way of detecting onset of the disease.

A mammogram – breast cancer screening – is a simple way of detecting onset of the disease.

More than 13,000 women aged 70 and over are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, which accounts for a third of all breast cancer cases. Nearly one-third (30%) of all women diagnosed with breast cancer report a symptom other than a lump. However, research shows that when asked to name symptoms of breast cancer, only 48% of women over 70 could name a symptom other than a lump.

“We know that, despite being at an increased risk of breast cancer, older women are more likely to delay going to their GP with breast cancer symptoms,” explains Dr Kevin Hill, Chair of NHS South Lincolnshire CCG. “The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign will reinforce the message ‘don’t assume you’re past it’ and urges women to visit their doctor immediately if they notice any unusual or persistent changes to their breasts, such as a lump or a change to a nipple or to the skin or the shape of a breast.”

The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign originally launched in 2014 and helped to raise awareness that the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Compared with the same period two years earlier, the awareness generated by the campaign contributed to a 25% increase in the number of breast cancers diagnosed in women aged 70 and over following an urgent GP referral for suspected breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in England, with approximately 41,200 women diagnosed every year. Early diagnosis is crucial and means treatment is more likely to be successful. In women aged 70 and over, if breast cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, 93% will live for at least another five years. This drops to just 13% for those diagnosed at the most advanced stage,” adds Kevin.

“Spotting the signs of cancer early is very important. If you are concerned about any breast cancer symptoms you should contact your GP straightaway.”

For more information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer please visit www.nhs.uk/breastcancer70