The campaign runs from now until the end of March and aims to raise awareness of breast cancer symptoms in women aged 70 and over. The key message is ‘1 in 3 women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it’.
Around 41,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in England. Of these, around 13,500 are aged 70 and over, and around 5,400 of these die as a result of breast cancer.
The campaign also aims to highlight the various signs and symptoms of breast cancer, as having a lump is not the only sign.
Dr. Steven Elliot, Macmillan GP and Cancer Lead for the CCG said:
“We are targeting women aged 70 and over because research shows that older women are less aware of non-lump breast cancer symptoms and are more likely to delay telling their GP about any changes to their breasts.”
Possible signs of breast cancer include a lump in the breast or armpit, nipple changes, changes to the skin of the breast, changes in the shape or size of the breast and pain in the breast or armpit. As soon as a woman has any of these symptoms or notices any changes in her breasts, she should go and see her doctor straight away.
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival. More than 90% of all women diagnosed with the earliest stage breast cancer survive their disease for at least five years. This figure is around 15% for women diagnosed with the most advanced stage of the disease.
Dr. Elliot emphasised:
“Even into your 70s and beyond, breast cancer can be a threat, so women should make sure they continue to check their breasts, get to know the symptoms, and if they notice any changes, tell their doctor.
“You're not wasting anyone's time by getting your symptoms checked out. It's much better to be sure – and your mind will be put at rest if it's not serious.
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed or scared about - the key thing to remember is that the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of effective treatment and survival.”
For further information about breast cancer visit nhs.uk/breastcancer70. You can download a breast cancer leaflet from this site which explains what to look out for and what action to take.