Two leading lights from the British Asian community have backed a campaign raising awareness about breast cancer among Asian women over 70.
Journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Asian Women of Achievement Awards founder Pinky Lilani have pledged their support to Public Health England’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign which is encouraging women to be better aware of non-lump breast cancer symptoms.
One in three women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are aged 70 and over
The symptoms however, vary dramatically from person to person according to experts.
Whilst lumps in the breast are the most obvious, other symptoms include changes to the skin on breasts, changes in the shape or size of the breast or nipple; nipple discharge and persistent pain in the breasts.
Around 13,400 women aged 70 and over are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, accounting for a third of all breast cancer cases.
Approximately 30% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer report a symptom other than a lump.
Despite older women being at an increased risk of breast cancer, they are also more likely to delay going to their GP with breast cancer symptoms and for older Asian women there are often cultural, religious and language issues that can cause delay.
“We know there are cultural taboos and embarrassment associated with the discussion and education about breast cancer amongst older Asian women but the truth is as Asian women we need to talk about the risk and symptoms of breast cancer more openly to increase our understanding of the disease”, said Mrs Lilani.
“A lump isn’t the only symptom that is important to know about. I want to encourage Asian women over 70 to pay attention to their breasts. If you notice any changes to your breasts make sure you tell your doctor straight away”, she added.
According to experts breast cancer is more treatable if found early with 93% of patients over the age of 70 who obtained an early diagnosis surviving the cancer for at least five years.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said: “I’d like to appeal to younger Asian women to engage older female members of their families in conversations about breast cancer to help detect the disease early so that more lives can be saved.”
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign coincides with Cancer Equality’s Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in England, with around 41,200 women diagnosed every year.
National figures show that around 9,500 women die from breast cancer each year and over half of these are women aged 70 and over (5,400).
This equates to around 15 women aged 70 and over dying from breast cancer in England every day.