District’s over 70s warned of non-lump breast cancer symptoms

Women in Bradford who are over 70 are being encouraged to be more aware of breast cancer symptoms other than a lump.

The message comes as Public Health England launches a ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign aimed at women aged 70 and over to drive awareness of their risk of breast cancer and the lesser-known breast cancer symptoms to look out for.

Approximately 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 half of women over 70 (48%) could name a symptom aside from a lump.

Toni Williams, public health consultant for Bradford Council, said: “A third of women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re no longer at risk from breast cancer.

“A lump isn’t the only sign of breast cancer. If you notice any changes to your breasts, tell your doctor straight away.

“This includes changes to the shape, size or skin of your breast or nipple, discharge from your breast, pain or a thickening around your breast or armpit.

“Finding breast cancer early is crucial as it is more treatable and treatment is more likely to be successful. Being aware of these symptoms could save your life.”

Dr Ian Fenwick, the district’s clinical lead for cancer, said: “Breast cancer screening saves lives, whatever age women may be, by finding cancers at an early stage when they are too small to see or feel. The older women are, the more likely they are to get breast cancer – one in three women who get it are aged 70 and over, but if it’s detected early, it’s more treatable.

“People of all ages in the district have access to a range of high quality cancer services which are provided by specialist healthcare professionals. But while our local cancer survival rates for patients are good, it is always important for everyone to be aware of any unusual symptoms and get them checked out by their GP, and to take up any screening invites they receive from the NHS.”

The latest figures show that 48 out of the 79 people who died from breast cancer in the district in 2013 were aged over 70.

If breast cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage in women aged 70 and over, 93% will live for at least another five years. This figure drops to just 13% for those diagnosed at the most advanced stage.

Possible signs of breast cancer include:

o A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit

o Changes to the skin of your breast

o Changes in the shape or size of your breast

o Nipple changes

o Nipple discharge

o Pain in your breast

o Any other unusual or persistent changes to your breasts

Be Clear on Cancer campaigns are run by Public Health England, in partnership with the Department of Health and NHS England. They are part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative, run in partnership with Cancer Research UK, to improve England’s cancer survival rates.