Breast cancer – women over 70

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1 in 3 women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it!

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England with around 44,300 women diagnosed each year. The older you are, the more likely you are to get it – one in three women who get breast cancer are aged 70 and over.

If breast cancer is detected early, it is more treatable. Finding it early could save your life.

We are encouraging women to be breast aware.  It is important to get to know how your breasts look and fell normally, so that you’ll find it easier to spot something unusual. Feel the whole of your breasts and your armpits. Does anything seem different?  Look at your breasts in the mirror.  Do they appear to have changed at all? If you notice an unusual change, tell your doctor.

Signs to watch out for    >

The first symptom of breast cancer most women notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue in their breast or armpit. Most breast lumps (90%) aren’t cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor.

You should see your GP if you notice any of the following:

  • a lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast
  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • discharge from either of your nipples (which may be streaked with blood)
  • a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • a rash on or around your nipple
  • a pain in one or both breasts
  • a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast

If you notice any of the above changes in your breasts, it is important that you contact your doctor straight away.  You’re not wasting anyone’s time and it’s much better to be sure, if only to put your mind at rest.

Breast screening    >

  • Breast screening uses x-rays to look at the breasts (mammography)
  • Women between the ages of 50 and 70 are invited for a free screening every 3 years
  • Screening can detect breast cancer at an earlier stage

If you find anything unusual or notice a possible symptom in your breasts, don’t wait for your screening appointment – see you doctor right away to be on the safe side.

Statistics    >

  • 1 in 3 women who get breast cancer are over 70
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England with around 44,300 women diagnosed each year – of which around 13,500 (a third) are aged 70 and over
  • In England, around 5,400 women aged 70 and over die from breast cancer each year

Useful links    >

Downloadable resources

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