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Breast cancer screening warning for over 70’s

Thousands of women are at a higher risk of breast cancer than they expect, because they believe that they are too old to develop the disease.

Experts have revealed that although NHS screening is offered across the spectrum of 50 to 73 year old women, women over the age of 73 must request regular mammograms, and many are not.

This older age group appears to be having a disturbing drop-out rate in the number of women that attend regular mammogram check-ups, despite statistics showing that most breast cancer deaths occur in the 75-plus age range.

Statistics and figures released to the Sunday Mercury have revealed that almost 75% of all women in the 50-73 age bracket, and who receive the mammogram two-yearly invitation from the NHS Breast Screening Programme attend regularly. Whereas only 67% of women who are 73 years old or more attend mammograms which they have requested.

Sally Greenbrook is a senior policy officer for the organisation Breakthrough Breast Cancer and has warned: “The fall in uptake in the over-70s has been attributed in part to women incorrectly assuming that they are no longer at risk of developing breast cancer after routine NHS breast screening invitations cease.”

She added, “Around 30% of breast cancers are detected through routine breast screening. It detects breast cancer at the earliest stage, often before it can be seen or felt. Subsequent treatment is less aggressive and is more likely to be successful. However, it is important that all women are breast aware, which means knowing what their breasts look and feel like normally. They should be on the look –out for any unusual changed and getting any changes checked out with their doctor as soon as possible.”

Greenbrook summarised, “Ensuring breast cancer is diagnosed as early and precisely as possible is the key to successful treatment.”

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