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Women unaware of breast cancer risk

Around 58% of women are unaware that their risk of breast cancer increases with age, a new survey shows.

The charity Breast Cancer Care found people do not realise that age ups their chances of suffering from the disease, despite the fact that it is one of the biggest risk factors.

More than 44,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, and 80% of cases occur in the over-50s.

The study found that while 42% of women aged 18 to 24 did not know of the increased risk, that figure rises to 63% among those aged 35 to 44, and 65% among those aged 45 to 54.

More than half (55%) of women over 70 were unaware of the higher risk, and almost a third (30%) did not believe it was necessary to check their breasts "at their age".

BBC broadcaster Jenni Murray was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 56, and said: "Breast awareness is so important throughout adult life and particularly so for those of us over 50.

"Echoing Breast Cancer Care's calls, I urge all women of 50 upwards to get screened every three years.

"If it isn't offered, ask.

"These two measures are the best ways we can all, as individuals, take care of ourselves and ensure that any problem can be detected promptly and treated as quickly and effectively as possible."

Breast Cancer Care

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"What about the under 50s?  8,000  women under 50 get breast cancer. Breast screening is only available on the NHS to women aged over 50, unless referred by their GP.  I was refused referral because I was under age 50, even when I showed symptoms. I suffered with advanced breast cancer and the trauma of GP's refusal to refer.  Early detection is the key to survival. I was denied this by incompetent GPs" - Jeannie Erskine, Perthshire, Scotland