Health experts in Liverpool are urging women aged 70 and over to be aware of the symptoms of breast cancer, as part of a new national ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign.
With 1 in 3 women diagnosed with breast cancer aged 70 and over, older ladies are being advised to get any signs and symptoms checked out early with their GP.
Local GP and Cancer Expert, Dr Steve Connolly, adds: “A lump isn’t the only sign of breast cancer. All ladies should check themselves regularly for any signs or symptoms, but it’s particularly important for older women. If you notice any changes, please tell your doctor.”
Possible signs of breast cancer include:
• A lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
• Changes to the skin of your breast
• Changes in the shape or size of your breast
• Nipple changes or discharge
• Pain in your breast
• Any unusual or persistent changes to your breasts.
The chances are it isn’t breast cancer, but it’s best to get any symptoms checked out with your GP.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England with around 41,200 women diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, the older you are, the more likely you are to get it. However, early detection makes breast cancer more treatable and your chances of survival are much better.
Director of Public Health at Liverpool City Council, Dr Sandra Davies, explains why it is so important that older women are particularly alert to the signs and symptoms of breast cancer: “Research shows that survival rates in older women tend to be lower and this is because they are more likely to delay visiting their GP or not get their symptoms checked. If you notice any changes to your breasts, please don’t ignore them.”
Aigburth mum of three, Brenda Collins, 74, knows only too well how important it is to be alert to the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. She tells her story:
“It’s 8 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In hindsight, I’d had a bit of tenderness in my right breast, but thought nothing of it. It was only when I received an invitation to attend a screening appointment that I mentioned it to the nurse.
“A couple of days later, I was surprised when I received another letter inviting me to be tested again. This time I was told by the consultant that I had breast cancer. It didn’t hit me straight away, but when I got home, I broke down and cried my eyes out. You think the worst.
“The staff that treated me couldn’t have been better. I had a lump removed very quickly. This was followed by radium treatment and tablets for five years. Touch wood, I didn’t have to have my breast removed and I’ve been fine ever since.
“My advice is don’t ignore any changes to your breasts – just go and see your GP.”
If you’re over 70, you can ask for a free screening every three years. Just get in touch with your local breast screening unit to make an appointment.
For further information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, please visit: nhs.uk/breastcancer70