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Early presentation needed for elderly breast cancer patients

A simple awareness programme that promotes early disease presentation could boost survival rates for older women with breast cancer, say experts.

Presenting at the National Cancer Research Institute Conference this week researchers say educational booklets can show older women the symptoms of breast cancer and give them the confidence to detect changes in their breasts.

"Our study aimed to give older women the knowledge, awareness and skills to detect a breast change, as well as the confidence and commitment to go to the doctor straightaway with any such change," said Amanda Ramirez, lead researcher and director of Cancer Research UK London Psychosocial Group.

"Simple techniques like providing accessible information booklets and a short interview with a radiographer could help save the lives of many women.

"We now need to examine whether the techniques will not only raise breast awareness but also decrease the chances that women who develop breast cancer will delay their presentation with the disease."

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of health information, said: "Age is the strongest factor linked to a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

"Many women don't know this risk continues to increase past the age of 70 when they are no longer eligible for the NHS screening programme so it's great to see research into ways to extend this awareness to older people."

National Cancer Research Institute

Cancer Research UK