The group of women who are most likely to develop breast cancer are not aware of their increased risk, according to a survey from one of the UK's leading cancer charities.
Breast Cancer Care's study claims that around three-quarters of women over 50 are not aware that breast cancer is more common in older women, while two-thirds do not realise that the risk of breast cancer increases with age.
The charity's joint chief executive, Christine Fogg, commented: 'With an increase in the incidence of breast cancer, it is crucial that all women, and especially women over 50, understand that the strongest risk factor for breast cancer is age and that 80% of breast cancers occur in women over 50."
"We are worried that the lack of knowledge in women may delay detection of breast cancer. That's why we are trying new ways to get this message across to older women."
The survey also found that 1 in 5 women over 50 do not look at or feel their breasts from time to time, and that less than half of women over 50 are confident that they know what changes should be reported to a GP or health professional.
Breast awareness is now considered by many experts to be the best way to detect potential cancers at an early stage, although routine screening for over-50s is also heavily promoted.
The charity is working with Boots to promote the risks for older women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Cherie Booth has backed the campaign, revealing that her aunt died from breast cancer in 1987, having been diagnosed in her late 40s.
She claimed today that her aunt may have had more of a chance of survival is she had reported the changes in her breast earlier.
The NHS advocates that women follow the breast awareness five-point code, which is:
- Know what is normal for you
- Know what changes to look and feel for
- Look and feel
- Report any changes to your GP immediately
- Have routine mammograms if you are 50 or over
Breast cancer is now the most common form of the disease in British women affecting one in nine of the female population at some point over the course of a lifetime.