HEALTH AND CARE: Women over 70 urged to check their breasts

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the country with more than 44,000 women diagnosed each year. The older you are, the most likely you are to get it – and one in three women who get breast cancer are aged 70 and over.

This week health professionals across West Sussex are urging women over the age of 70 to check their breasts for early signs of cancer. If breast cancer is detected early, it is more treatable. Finding it early could save your life.

Many women may think that because they are older that they are less likely to be affected by breast cancer, but this isn’t the case. Research shows that breast cancer survival is lower in older women, making it even more important for them to be aware of the symptoms and seek medical advice at the earliest opportunity if something isn’t right.

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival – more than 90 per cent of all women diagnosed with the earliest stage survive for at least five years. This figure is around 15 per cent for women diagnosed at a late stage.

A lack of awareness of symptoms other than a lump is believed to be one of the reasons for more older women being diagnosed at a late stage.

Women are encouraged to be breast aware – it is important to get to know how your breasts look and feel 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?

A lump isn’t the only sign of breast cancer. Symptoms can include changes to the nipple, changes to the skin on the breast, changes to the shape or size of the breast and pain in the breast or armpit.

Anyone noticing any of these changes should see their GP as soon as possible.

It might not be anything serious, but finding out sooner can make a real difference.

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