Blackburn with Darwen health bosses are backing a new national Be Clear on Cancer campaign aimed at older women to increase early diagnoses of breast cancer.
One in three women diagnosed with breast cancer are aged 70 or over. A woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age and the main message of the campaign is to remind them: ‘don’t assume you’re past it’, and to visit their doctor if they spot any changes in their breasts.
Lack of awareness of symptoms other than a lump, such as changes in the shape or size of the breast, is believed to be one of the reasons for this, which the campaign aims to change.
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival – more than 90 per cent of all women diagnosed with the earliest stage survive for at least five years. This figure is around 15 per cent for women diagnosed at a late stage.
GP Neil Smith, Blackburn with Darwen CCG and Macmillan GP for Pennine Lancashire, said: “A lump isn’t the only sign of breast cancer and research shows that women over 70 have low awareness of other symptoms. They’re also more likely to delay presenting to their GP with breast cancer, which could ultimately affect their chance of survival.
“One in three women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it or dismiss any symptoms as a sign of ageing.”
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “The fact is women 70 and over are more likely to be diagnosed at a late stage, compared to younger women. This latest Be Clear on Cancer campaign has an important role to play in helping increase symptom awareness levels, early diagnoses and, ultimately, survival rates.”
Even if they haven’t noticed any changes in their breasts, women aged over 70 are still entitled to free NHS breast screening. This can detect the condition at a very early stage.
You can make your own appointment by calling the East Lancashire Hospital Trust breast screening unit on: (01282) 805301.
For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/breastcancer70