Breast cancer - don’t assume you’re past it
This month across England we are talking about breast cancer and women over 70. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England with around 41,500 women diagnosed each year – of which around a third are aged 70 and over – so never assume that you’re past it.
The current campaign is to remind all women, but particularly those over 70, that a lump is not the only sign of breast cancer - if you see any change to your nipples, skin or the shape of your breasts it is important to get it checked out.
Local GP Dr Jonty Heaversedge said: “Most women now know that it is important to see their GP if they find a lump in their breast, but you may not be aware that there are other things to look out for too, including: a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts; discharge from either of your nipples; a lump or swelling in either of your armpits or dimpling on the skin of your breasts.”
He added “For women over 70 it may be easy to dismiss some of these symptoms as just being down to age, but they could be early warning signs of breast cancer – so don’t ignore them.”
You can find a full list of symptoms on the NHS choices website www.nhs.uk.
If you are aged 70 or over you are still entitled to NHS breast screening every 3 years – you just need to make your own appointment. Currently the NHS Breast Screening Programme saves an estimated 1400 lives each year in England. Details of your nearest NHS breast screening unit are available on the NHS Cancer Screening Programme website www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/breastscreen. If you are between 50 and 70 you will be invited to screening so wait to be contacted.
For information on Breast Screening in Southwark go to www.selbreastscreening.org.uk or call 020 3299 1964. There are a range of different locations where you can be screened and a range of appointment dates and times. There are static sites at King’s College Hospital and Camberwell Green, as well as mobile units across south east London. There is a full list available on the website.
In England, around 5,400 women aged 70 and over die from breast cancer each year. Diagnosing breast cancer early means treatment is more likely to be successful, so make sure you make an appointment with your GP if you notice any changes.