Over 70s ‘lack information on breast cancer symptoms’

A lack of knowledge about the various signs and symptoms of breast cancer is putting older women at risk, according to experts. 

Despite one in three women diagnosed with breast cancer each year being over 70, half of this age group are unable to name a single warning sign other than a lump, Public Health England (PHE) says. 

Older women still at risk

A campaign, Be Clear on Cancer, is urging all women to go to the GP if they notice any changes to their breasts. 

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, warned women they are never too old to get breast cancer.

Over 40,000 women are diagnosed with the cancer every year – with older women being at an increased risk. 

If the cancer is discovered at the earliest stages, women in their 70s and older have a 5-year survival rate of 93%.  

But despite this, PHE found older women are most likely to delay going to the GP after noticing symptoms. 

Not always a lump

Professor Dame Sally Davies, says signs of breast cancer aren’t limited to just a lump.

The campaign is urging women to look out for changes to their nipple and to the skin and shape of their breasts.

PHE deputy director for health and wellbeing, Dr Ann Hoskins, says many women over 70 are unaware of the risks of breast cancer, and have less knowledge about the symptoms than younger women.

She says they are not necessarily looking at or feeling their breasts, and so would be less likely to notice any changes.


In addition to lumps, breast cancer warning signs include:

  • changes in size or shape of breasts
  • nipple discharge, which could be streaked with blood
  • armpit lump or swelling
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • rashes on or near the nipple
  • changes in how the nipple looks, which could include becoming sunken into your breast


For more information about breast screening services click here

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