Breast cancer - don’t assume you’re past it

Local clinical leaders are supporting Be Clear on Cancer’s new national campaign, ‘Breast Cancer in women over 70’.  The campaign will run from 3 February till 16 March across England.

The three local CCGs: Bradford City, Bradford Districts and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven are raising awareness of breast cancer in women over 70 with specific emphasis on recognising symptoms and telling your GP as early as possible. The main message the CCGs are trying to highlight is – 1 in 3 women who get breast cancer are over 70 so don’t assume you’re past it.

In the Bradford area, of the 275 people treated surgically for breast cancer, 53 people were aged 70 or over. In addition, a further 23 people were treated non-surgically. Breast cancer accounts for 5,400 deaths in women of this age group in England annually.

In women over 70 breast cancer survival is lower. Research has shown this could be because older women have low knowledge of non-lump breast cancer symptoms and are more likely to delay presenting their symptoms to a GP. This could be because they are embarrassed, afraid of treatment or dismissing symptoms as a sign of ageing.

Dr Ian Fenwick, the district’s clinical lead for cancer, said, “With 1 in 3 women diagnosed with breast cancer over the age of 70, it is vital that we highlight the importance of telling their GP if there are any changes to their breasts. There is no reason for people to be embarrassed or scared about visiting their GP, as it is important to remember the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival.

It is also important that we make people aware of all the symptoms, so that people know what to look for. The most widely recognised symptom is a lump but if there are any changes to the size, shape, skin of the breast or nipple you should go and see your doctor straight away.”

As part of the national campaign, adverts will appear on TV and in national newspapers and women’s magazines.

For further information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, please visit nhs.uk/breastcancer70