Public Health England has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer in women aged 70 and over.
The campaign is part of the Be Clear on Cancer work which aims to help improve early diagnosis of cancer by raising awareness of symptoms and encouraging people to see their GP without delay.
Research has shown that the risk of breast cancer increases with age with 1 in 3 women who get breast cancer being over 70.
Nell McInnery, aged 98 from Parr, has shown that it is never too late to get breast cancer after being diagnosed with it last year.
Nell said: “I have never checked my breasts. Early last year I was in my bathroom having a wash when I noticed a lump in my breast. I was not overly concerned but told my good friend. She told me to make an appointment with the GP straightaway.
“At my GP appointment a couple of days later, I was examined and referred to Whiston Hospital for a biopsy. Results came back and I was told I had breast cancer.
“I underwent surgery to have the lump removed. I was in hospital for two days. After I returned home, I was referred to Clatterbridge Hospital and received several bouts of radiotherapy over a period of weeks. The radiotherapy went well and I had a further appointment with my consultant who gave me the all clear.
“From that day on, I regularly check my breasts and would be very proud if my story helps encourage people to check their breasts.”
Local health professionals are urging women over 70 to tell their doctor if they notice any changes to their breasts. Dr Paul Rose, St Helens GP Cancer Lead said, “It is vital that women check their breasts regularly for any changes, and a lump is the most common sign of breast cancer. There may also be other signs and symptoms which are listed below. If you notice any changes, tell your doctor as soon as possible, as finding the cancer early makes it more treatable.”
Women should see their doctor if they notice any of the following:
a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
dimpling on the skin of your breasts
a rash on or around your nipple
a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
Sue Forster, Director of Public Health for St Helens Council said: “The ‘breast cancer in women over 70’ campaign has been run previously on two occasions. Both campaigns showed an increase in awareness of the key messages promoted and more cancers were found to be diagnosed during the campaign period, we hope to see the same positive results following this campaign.”
For more information on breast cancer and symptoms, please visit the NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer