Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Older women 'unaware of breast cancer risk'

  • 1 Comment

Women are “shockingly unaware” that they are most at risk of breast cancer in older age, a new study has revealed.

According to the findings, those over 70 are most likely to contract the disease but are the least well informed about its dangers.

The study, commissioned by charity Breast Cancer Campaign, also found that awareness of the greatest breast cancer threat - increasing age - was “alarmingly” low across the board.

Less than 2% of women surveyed correctly identified those aged 70 and above as being most at risk of breast cancer.

They mistakenly believed that women aged 40-49 (32%) or 50-59 (32%) stood a greater chance of contracting the disease.

Meanwhile, the study showed that women aged over 70 - those most at risk - were less likely to use their entitlement to routine breast screening than any other demographic and could be ignoring vital signs of cancer.

Around two in five (39%) of people in this age group checked their breasts less than once a year or not at all.

The report found only half (53%) of women in England aged over 70 were aware they are entitled to request NHS routine screening, with only 14% attending appointments after turning 71.

Reasons for not going through this process included having no family history of breast cancer; believing they were unlikely to get breast cancer at a certain age or having transport difficulties.

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 2% 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 (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.”

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer with around 48,000 people diagnosed in Britain every year.

Some 12,000 people die each year from the disease.

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Most women having their last 'routine' mammogram are not made aware that they can request the continuation of this procedure. They are either not told or it is not sufficiently emphasised when they go for what they believe is their final mammogram that they can request 3 yearly screening. They erroneously believe that the mammograms would continue rouinely if they were at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
    If more money was allocated to breast cancer screening it could continue every 3 years throughout a woman's life after the age of 50. If women do not get 3 yearly invitations as reminders, they will simply forget to ask for the screening.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.