Sunday, February 9, 2014.
The NHS is launching a new
‘Be Clear on Cancer’ public awareness campaign highlighting the fact that the
older you get, your chances of getting breast cancer increase, with one third
of women diagnosed with the disease each year being aged 70 or over.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in England
with around 41,500 women diagnosed each year and around 5,400 women over 70 die from the
Surprisingly, two thirds of women aged 70 and
over (67 per cent) wrongly
think women of all ages are equally likely to get breast cancer, when in fact a
woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age.
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign also encourages
women from black African and Caribbean communities to know the signs and
symptoms, talk to their daughters or daughters-in-laws and visit their doctor
if they spot any changes in their breasts.
With many only on the lookout for a lump in
the breast, other signs of the disease are often overlooked. The ‘Be Clear on
Cancer’ campaign pushes women to identify several lesser-known but equally
important signs of the disease, including: pain in the breast or armpit; changes to the
nipples, size or shape of the breasts; lump
in your breast or armpit and changes
to the skin of your breast.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director at Public
Health England, points out that research shows that women aged over 70 have low
symptom awareness and are more likely to delay presenting to their GP with
breast cancer, which could ultimately affect their chance of
“Added to this are the cultural taboos and
embarrassment that are specifically associated with the discussion and
education about breast cancer amongst older black Caribbean and African women,”
she says. “Women cannot afford to ignore the statistics - one in three women
who get breast cancer are over 70[i],
so don’t assume you’re past it or dismiss any symptoms as a sign of ageing and
most importantly don’t be afraid to talk to your GP.”
Be Clear on Cancer campaigns are run by Public Health
England, in partnership with the Department of Health and NHS England. The
campaign was piloted in the West Midlands and Gloucestershire from January to
March 2013, as part of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative,
run in partnership with Cancer Research UK, to improve England’s cancer
The campaign is urging daughters to engage
older female members of their families in conversations about cancer to help
detect the disease. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the
chance of survival. Therefore Black Caribbean and African women are encouraged
to talk about the issue.
It recently received celebrity support, with
actress Dona Croll featuring in an infomercial designed for Black Britain.
Speaking on her role in the project, Dona commented:
“If losing precious lives to breast cancer can
be avoided, then we must take every step necessary to prevent this. Educating
women – specifically older woman from our communities – on the importance of
discussion and subsequently, early diagnosis is vitally important. I am keen to
help spread awareness and encourage women to monitor their health more
For more information on breast cancer in women over 70 please