We take a de­tailed look at how breast cancer can af­fect older Women a

I’m now over 70, am I still at risk of get­ting breast cancer?

Woman (UK) - - Ask The Experts -

QI’ve al­ways as­sumed you’re less likely to get breast cancer as you get older, but my daugh­ter tells me I’m still at risk at the age of 75. Is this true?

Philippa says:

Your daugh­ter is right. In fact the older you are, the more likely you are to get breast cancer. While many women over 70 as­sume they are past the age when they can get it, one in three

My MUM Won’t go to the Doc­tor

QMy 72-year-old mum says the shape of one of her breasts has changed, but she won’t see the GP. Should she get it checked out?

Philippa says:

aYes – any un­usual or per­sis­tent change in ei­ther breast should be seen by a doc­tor as soon as pos­si­ble. She may be fear­ful of a cancer di­ag­no­sis, but re­as­sure her that if it is cancer, find­ing it early will give her the best chance of be­ing treated suc­cess­fully.

Help her write down any other symp­toms that may be both­er­ing her, so she doesn’t for­get to tell the GP, and en­cour­age her to make that ap­point­ment. The sooner she does so, the bet­ter. women di­ag­nosed with breast cancer are aged 70 or over. It’s very im­por­tant to be aware of any changes to your breasts and to seek med­i­cal help if you no­tice any­thing un­usual. Be aware also that find­ing a lump isn’t the only sign of breast cancer. Other pos­si­ble signs you may not know about in­clude dim­pling or puck­er­ing on the skin of your breast, or nip­ple dis­charge. The im­por­tant thing is to be breast aware – en­sur­ing you’re fa­mil­iar with your breasts, and what is nor­mal for you, so that you’ll no­tice any changes more eas­ily.

Will a healthy diet pro­tect me?

QI’ve re­cently im­proved my diet, eat­ing more healthily and re­duc­ing the amount of al­co­hol I drink. Will I now be less likely to get breast cancer?

Philippa says:

aBe­cause there is still so much we don’t un­der­stand about breast cancer, there is no guar­an­teed way of pre­vent­ing it, but some sim­ple life­style changes are known to re­duce your risk. This in­cludes drink­ing al­co­hol sen­si­bly to gov­ern­ment guide­lines, watch­ing your weight and ex­er­cis­ing – all good tips for a health­ier life in gen­eral. Apart from be­ing a woman, the big­gest risk fac­tor is your age – the risk of breast cancer in­creases as we get older. Stay­ing breast aware will help you know how your breasts look and feel nor­mally so you’ll find it eas­ier to spot any changes.

I’M WOR­RIED about nip­ple Dis­charge

QRe­cently I’ve no­ticed a dis­charge leaking from one of my nip­ples. Should I see my doc­tor about it?

Philippa says:

aYou should def­i­nitely see your doc­tor about any nip­ple dis­charge, as in some cases it may be a sign of breast cancer.

Other changes to the nip­ples could be sig­nif­i­cant too, such as a change in your nip­ple’s po­si­tion, or you may no­tice a nip­ple be­com­ing sunk into your breast. Any rash on or around the nip­ple should also be re­ported to your GP.

How­ever, the dis­charge could be caused by other things, for ex­am­ple harm­less growths in­side your breast ducts, or an age-re­lated is­sue that can re­sult in a dis­coloured dis­charge from both breasts.

You should get any un­usual or per­sis­tent changes to your breasts checked out, so make an ap­point­ment to see your GP to find out the cause of the dis­charge. If it is breast cancer, early de­tec­tion makes the dis­ease more treat­able.

✱ I’d love to an­swer any ques­tions that you may have – don’t be shy! Email askdr­philippa@timeinc.com or write to me at 161 Marsh Wall, Lon­don E14 9AP.

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