East Sussex County Council’s Public Health team is backing the Be Clear on Cancer campaign in a bid to highlight the importance of early diagnosis among older women.
In East Sussex there were 221 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women over the age of 70 in 2013 alone, and there is growing concern that older women are not fully aware of the symptoms of the disease.
“Many women assume that, because they are older, they are less likely to be affected by the disease,” said Cynthia Lyons, Acting Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council. “The fact is the older you are, the more likely you are to get the disease.
“It is even more important for older women to be aware of the symptoms of breast cancer, check themselves and seek medical advice at the earliest opportunity if something isn’t right. It might not be anything serious, but finding out sooner can make a real difference.”
Survival rates are lower in women over 70 compared to younger women, and lack of awareness of symptoms other than a lump is believed to be one of the reasons for this.
Cynthia Lyons added: “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.”
Symptoms can include changes to the nipple, changes to the skin on the breast, changes to the shape or size of the breast and pain in the breast or armpit.