Over 70s urged to check for signs of breast cancer

Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public healthPUBLIC health bosses in East Sussex are urging women over 70 to check their breasts for early signs of cancer.

The call comes as a new national Be Clear on Cancer campaign launches aimed at highlighting the symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis.

In East Sussex there were 216 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women over 70 in 2015 alone, with 85 deaths in the same year.

“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 one in three women who get breast cancer are over the age of 70.

“Research shows that breast cancer survival is lower in older women, making it even more important for them to be aware of the symptoms 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 woman 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.”

A lump isn’t the only sign of breast cancer. 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. Anyone noticing any of these changes should see their GP as soon as possible.

The Be Clear on Cancer awareness raising campaign runs from February 22 to March 31.