Low awareness of ‘non-lump’ breast cancer symptoms puts over 70s’ health at risk in York

Published Monday, 13th July 2015

City of York Council is supporting Public Health England’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign launched today which is aimed at women aged 70 and over.

• just under a half of women aged 70 and over were able to name a symptom aside from a lump
• latest annual figures show 15 women aged 70 and over died from breast cancer in York in 2013

City of York Council is supporting Public Health England’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign launched today which is aimed at women aged 70 and over.  It aims to drive awareness of their risk of breast cancer and the lesser-known cancer symptoms to look out for in women over 70.   

Approximately 30% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer report a symptom other than a lump.1  However, research shows that when asked to name symptoms of breast cancer, only half of women over 70 (48%) in England could name a symptom apart from a lump.

Of the 51 women aged 70 and over in York who were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, 15 died. Early diagnosis is very important.  

City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health is Councillor Carol Runciman said: “Research shows that some women over 70 have low awareness of breast cancer symptoms other than a lump. They’re also more likely to delay going to their GP with breast cancer symptoms[i], which could ultimately affect their chance of survival.  

“A third of women who develop breast cancer are over 70[ii], so no one should assume they're too old or dismiss any symptoms as a sign of ageing.

“Hopefully this campaign will increase awareness of breast cancer in the over 70s and encourage them to make an appointment with their GP to discuss any concerns they may have.”

City of York Council’s Acting Director of Public Health, Julie Hotchkiss said: “I would encourage all women experiencing any of the possible signs of breast cancer to visit their GP.  The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the more successful the treatment is likely to be, even in the very elderly. Remember that a lump isn't the only sign of breast cancer and if you have noticed any persistent changes to your breast, then get checked out by your GP."     

The nationwide Be Clear on Cancer ‘breast cancer in women over 70’ campaign will launch on Monday 13 July and run for eight weeks. For more information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer please visit nhs.uk/breastcancer70
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