Older women unaware of increased breast cancer risk

More than half of older women don't know age increases breast cancer risk

MORE THAN HALF of British women don’t know that the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.

In a survey carried out by Breast Cancer Care on 1,000 women, 58% did not realise their age had a major effect on the likelihood of developing the illness.

Although 80% of the 44,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are over 50, younger women were more aware of increased risks with age than the older groups. Just 37 per cent of those aged between 35 and 44 and only 35 per cent of those aged between 45 and 54 were aware that age increases the risk of breast cancer.

Awareness of women over 70 was even more shocking, with 55% not knowing of heightened risk, and 30% believing they didn’t need breast screening ‘at their age’.

Speaking to the Independent, Cherie Blair, who is patron of Breast Cancer Care, called for more women to take precautions against the disease. ‘My aunt Audrey died of breast cancer aged 52, a year younger than I am now. She had discovered a lump in her breast, but through lack of awareness and embarrassment, didn’t tell her doctor for several months. The evidence is clear that women are more at risk of breast cancer the older we get.’

Meanwhile, there’s fresh hope in detecting early signs of breast cancer with a major breakthrough in testing.

A method of screening women for the gene that causes the hereditary strain of the disease has been developed by scientists.

The new technique uses a ‘Roche genome sequencer’ to test women’s DNA for any genetic abnormalities; it’s particularly sensitive to spotting the BRCA1 gene, which has an 80% chance of causing breast cancer.

The test, which could be available on the NHS next year, is performed on blood or by using a swab, with results being delivered in hours. The current method costs £1,000 and takes weeks for results to arrive.

Related links:

To go to the Breast Cancer Care website click here

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