PUBLIC Health England has launched a new national ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign to remind older women to visit their doctor if they spot any changes in their breasts.

Four in ten women in the Wessex health region – which covers Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – think women of all ages are equally likely to get breast cancer, when in fact a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age.

Around 840 women aged 70 and over are diagnosed with breast cancer in Wessex each year, yet survival rates are lower in this age group compared to younger women. Lack of awareness of symptoms other than a lump, such as changes in the shape or size of the breast, is believed to be one of the reasons for this, which the campaign aims to change.

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival – more than 90 per cent of all women diagnosed with the earliest stage survive for at least five years.

This figure is around 15 per cent for women diagnosed at a late stage.

Mary O’Brien, Consultant in Healthcare Public Health at Wessex Public Health England Centre said: “Research shows that women over 70 have low awareness of breast cancer symptoms.

“They’re also more likely to delay presenting to their GP with breast cancer.

“This which could ultimately affect their chance of survival,” she said.

The Be Clear on Cancer campaign will see a new national advert campaign until March 16.