If you've noticed changes to your breasts and you're over 70, tell your doctor.

Dr Prue Mitchell

If you've noticed changes to your breasts and you're over 70, tell your doctor. You're not wasting anyone's time by getting yourself checked out. Call your GP today.

What could it be?

Some symptoms may be caused by other conditions, such as a cyst or abscess, which may still need treatment. But don't try to diagnose yourself. Go and see your doctor now to find out for sure.

Could it be cancer?

Unusual changes to your breasts can be a sign of breast cancer, which is why it's so important to see your doctor straight away. Early detection makes it easier to treat. Seeing your doctor could save your life.

I would urge other women to be aware of changes to their breasts. If you notice something out of the ordinary, visit your doctor straight away.

Margaret Underwood, aged 79

Are there other symptoms of breast cancer?

It's important to get to know how your breasts look and feel normally so you'll find it easier to spot something unusual. If you notice a change, tell your doctor.

Possible signs of breast cancer include:

  • a lump or thickening in your breast or armpit
  • a change to the skin of your breast
  • changes in the shape, size or feel of your breast
  • nipple changes
  • nipple discharge
  • pain in your breast
  • any other unusual or persistent changes to your breast

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP as soon as possible. If you know anyone who has any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor.

Find your local GP

What will happen at my GP appointment?

You're not wasting anyone's time by getting your symptoms checked out. It's much better to be sure – your mind will be put at rest if it's not serious. 

At your appointment, your GP may ask about your symptoms and family history, and carry out a physical examination of your breasts.

You may also be referred to a hospital to see a specialist if further examinations and tests are needed.


Hear from our GPs

Find out what to expect when you see your doctor – watch the video.

About breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in England, with around 44,300 women diagnosed each year. The older you are, the more likely you are to get it – one in three women who get breast cancer are aged 70 or over. 

If breast cancer is detected early, it is more treatable. Finding it early could save your life.

Breast screening

Breast screening uses X-rays to look at the breasts (mammography). Women between the ages of 50 and 70 are currently invited for free screening every three years. Screening can detect breast cancer at an earlier stage. In some parts of England, some women aged 47-49 and 71-73 are being invited for screening as part of a major research trial.

If you're over 70, you can ask for a free screening every three years. Just get in touch with your local breast screening unit to make an appointment (find your local unit on the NHS website at nhs.uk/breastscreening).

Whatever your age, and even if you attend screening, it's important to remain breast aware. If you find anything unusual or notice a possible symptom, don't wait for your screening appointment – see your doctor right away to be on the safe side.

Breast cancer screening announcement

Some women aged between 70 and 79 who did not receive an invitation for a final screening are being offered one now.

Find out if this affects you

Reduce your risk

A healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of breast cancer:

  • maintain a healthy weight – keeping a healthy body weight is a great way to help reduce your risk of cancer
  • look after yourself – keep fit and stay active. Swimming, exercise classes, dancing or even brisk walking – no matter what type of exercise, the more you can do, the better
  • cut down on alcohol – drinking too much can lead to a number of health problems. By drinking less, you'll reduce your health risks

For more information on how to reduce your risk of cancer, visit nhs.uk/reduce-your-risk.

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