According to a new Public Health England survey, too many older women are unaware of some of the early warning signs of breast cancer.
Around one in three women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year are aged over 70. Yet, less than half of the 731 women aged over 40 who were polled in the survey could list a single breast cancer symptom other than a lump.
In light of research, which has shown that older women are more likely to delay visiting their GP, a Public Health England campaign, named Be Clear on Cancer, is urging older women to consult their doctor as soon as they notice any changes in their breasts such as a lump, discharge, or change to the nipple, skin or shape of their breasts.
Sadly, almost 10,000 women die each year from breast cancer and more than half of those are aged over 70. It is vital that older women become more aware of the importance of notifying their GP whenever they think there may be any unusual or persistent changes to their breasts.
This survey raises a number of important points. Breast cancer does not only affect younger women. In fact, older women are most at risk and crucially, breast cancer symptoms do not just include lumps.
Around 41,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in England, making it the most common cancer affecting women.
At present, women aged below 50 and over 70 are not included in the national breast screening programme. However, a trial is currently underway investigating the merits of extending the programme to women aged 47-49 and 71-73.
Early diagnosis, regardless of how old you are, will usually heighten your chances of successful treatment.
The Clinical Negligence team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers are widely experienced in handling claims related to delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosed cancer errors which can cause particular harm when it comes to breast cancer cases.
If we are serious about improving cancer detection rates in England, we need to urgently address the issue of early cancer diagnosis and ensure that women who are diagnosed with the disease are treated as efficiently and as soon as possible.
Paul Sankey is a Senior Medical Negligence Solicitor leading the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Clinical Negligence team in London.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to Medical Negligence. For a free consultation call our Medical Negligence Solicitors on freephone 0808 175 8105 or start your claim online.