October 18, 2011

UK: Elderly women underestimating threat of breast cancer

LONDON, England / The Telegraph / Health / October 18, 2011

Only one older woman in 50 realise that they are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer, rather than the middle-aged, a survey has found.
Only half of those over 70 were aware they were entitled to a routine
NHS breast screening appointment Photo: REX

By Stephen Adams, Medical Correspondent

Two-thirds of those over 70 think that women aged 40 to 59 are at greatest risk of the disease, which kills 12,000 women a year in Britain, according to the poll by the charity Breast Cancer Campaign.

Yet a third of the 48,000 breast cancer diagnoses made every year in Britain are in the over 70s, a disproportionately high number.

It also found that only half of those over 70 were actually aware they were entitled to a routine NHS breast screening appointment. Only one in seven had actually attended since turning 71.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign said: "It is extremely worrying that although age is the biggest risk factor when it comes to developing breast cancer, less than two per cent of women are aware that women over 70 are most at risk.

"We read daily about different risk factors for breast cancer including alcohol and weight. While these are important, age is the most significant risk factor of all and yet women, including those most likely to be affected, remain in the dark about this.

"A third of all breast cancer diagnoses in the UK - or over 15,000 per year -occur in women aged 70 and over, so it is absolutely vital that women of this age are better informed about their risk and the steps they can take to ensure their breast health is a priority.

"There is a danger that women over 70 think they are no longer at risk, particularly as the vast majority no longer receive invitations to screening, so are more reliant on healthcare professionals to inform them of their risk and remind them to be breast aware."

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