A Milton Keynes breast cancer support group is urging older women to stay vigilant about the symptoms of breast cancer.
Bosom Pals MK is working with Milton Keynes Hospital and the local Breast Screening Unit to make women who are no longer routinely called back for a mammogram aware of how to continue with screening if they want to.
A national advertising campaign highlights the fact that one third of new cases of breast cancer occur in women over 70 – with a reminder that the risk of getting breast cancer increases with age.
The campaign, which runs un til Sunday, March 16, aims to raise awareness of breast cancer symptoms in women aged 70 and over, with the main message being: one in three women who gets breast cancer is over 70 so don’t assume you’re past it. The campaign also emphasises that a lump is not the only sign of breast cancer and women should tell their GP if they notice any changes to their breasts.
The campaign advises women to check for symptoms, which can include lumps, skin changes such as dimpling or puckering, rashes and eczema -like crusting, nipple discharge or distortion or pulling in of the nipple.
If these symptoms are present or you are in any doubt the best course of action to take is to visit your GP.
However, Bosom Pals MK is concerned the campaign makes no mention of breast screening and the importance of having regular mammograms to pick up small and treatable abnormalities that self-checking may not discover.
The current national screening programme offers mammograms every three years to women aged between 50 and 70.
This will be extended, by 2016, to include women aged between 47 and 73.
Significantly, it is, and will continue to be, possible to have further mammograms after the age of 73, through self-referral.
As a result, Bosom Pals MK has created a ‘reminder’ card to be given to local women at their last screening to prompt them to consider over 70s cancer screening.
This card has been designed and printed with funding from the Milton Keynes Community Foundation and Bosom Pals.
For further information about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, go to nhs.uk/breastcancer70
> About 41,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in England; of these about 13,500 are aged 70 and over.
> Bosom Pals was set up in 1992 to support women who have or have had breast cancer and their carers and is now also open to women with gynaecological cancers.
> The group allows members to talk freely about their experiences and get involved in fundraising.
> Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at the Age UK Peartree Centre, Peartree Bridge, from 7.30pm.
> Visit www.bosompalsmk.co.uk.
Pictured above are Doreen La Bastide, left, and Carole Allan of Bosom Pals.