A 77-year old breast cancer survivor from London has urged women to always go to their doctor without delay if they notice anything unusual.
Yvonne - Breast Cancer survivor
Last year, Yvonne noticed changes to the skin of her breast and went straight to her doctor. Yvonne had been diagnosed with breast cancer twice before but didn’t know that the risk of getting the disease increases as you get older. Because of this she strongly believes that no matter how old you are, if you notice any changes to your breasts, you should see your doctor straight away. The Breast Cancer Care Supporter says “Women should go to their doctor without being scared. A lot of black people are scared of cancer. But I think, if you notice something unusual it’s best to get it checked out, rather than hoping that you’ll wake up one day and it will just go away. When you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer before, like me, you don’t leave anything to chance.”
Yvonne’s doctor referred her straight away for a mammogram. The results were inconclusive so further tests were scheduled. During this time Yvonne noticed changes to her nipple and she made sure she kept her doctor updated. Further tests revealed cells in her milk ducts that the medical team thought could become cancerous if left untreated.
Yvonne underwent breast surgery to remove the milk ducts and she was successfully treated. She says, “I had some really good doctors helping me; I could tell or ask them anything. Also my family were really there for me. They helped me get through this.”
Yvonne said that a lot of women her age, think that even if they are diagnosed with breast cancer over the age of 70 they can't be treated because they are too old. But she confidently believes that she is alive today because she went to her doctor early. “Look at me I’m over 70. I made sure I went to the doctor early and that’s why I’m here today.”
Yvonne - Breast Cancer survivor
Arikoge Ogedegbe, Consultant and Lead Surgeon at King George Hospital, Barking, Havering and Redbridge, says: “I regularly treat and perform surgery on women over the age of 70 (my oldest patient was 99 years) and always tell women that breast cancer is more treatable if found early. If breast cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage in women aged 70 and over, 93% will live for at least another five years. This figure drops to just 13% for those diagnosed at the most advanced stage.
The physical impact of breast surgery if the cancer is detected early is minimal. Delayed diagnosis and therefore treatment reduces longevity and has an adverse effect on both immediate and extended families. As a surgeon, I’m delighted to be supporting the Be Clear on Cancer campaign because the earlier we can diagnose cancer, the more treatment options we can offer our patients.”
Be Clear on Cancer
If you or a loved one such as your mother, a relative or close friend have any concerns about changes to your or their breasts then tell your doctor straight away or encourage them to see their doctor. Finding breast cancer early makes it more treatable and could save your life.
Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE and actress, Dona Croll are supporting Public Health England’s ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ breast cancer campaign targeting women aged 70 and over.
The Be Clear on Cancer campaign aims to drive awareness of the risk of breast cancer amongst this age group and to increase their knowledge of lesser-known breast cancer symptoms which could include:
- Changes to the skin of your breast
- Changes in the shape or size of your breast or nipple
- Nipple discharge
- Pain in your breast
- Any unusual or persistent changes to your breasts
For more information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, visit nhs.uk/breastcancer70.