ONE in three women diagnosed with breast cancer in Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire each year are aged 70 or over, with more than half accounting for all breast cancer deaths in the area, new figures have revealed.
This comes as Public Health England launches the national Be Clear on Cancer campaign urging women not to ‘assume they are past it’ and to visit their doctor if they spot any changes in their breasts.
The initiative also set out to debunk myths about cancer after it emerged that along with their neighbours in Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire, almost half of women over 70 in Swindon wrongly believed that women of any age were equally likely to contract breast cancer.
Yet the risk of developing a tumour only increases with time.
Around 650 women aged 70 and over are diagnosed with breast cancer in Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire each year, yet survival rates are lower in this age group compared to younger women.
In Swindon, 37 cases were registered in 2011. Out of them, 26 female patients were killed by the tumour.
Lack of awareness of symptoms other than a lump, such as changes in the shape or size of the breast, is believed to be one of the reasons for this, which the campaign hopes to be able to change.
Dr Shona Arora, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire PHE Centre Director, said: “Research shows that women over 70 have low awareness of breast cancer symptoms, other than a lump.
“They’re also more likely to delay presenting to their GP with breast cancer, which could ultimately affect their chance of survival.
“One in three women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it or dismiss any symptoms as a sign of ageing.”
The Be Clear on Cancer campaign will see new national advertisements running on TV and in the press from today until March 16.