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The aim of this study was to elicit the level of breast cancer awareness in older women. A cross-sectional study-specific questionnaire survey of 712 British women aged 67-73 years (response rate 83.8%), assessing knowledge of symptoms and risk and confidence to detect a change, was conducted. Over 85% of respondents were aware that a lump was a symptom of breast cancer but knowledge of non-lump symptoms was limited. Knowledge of risk was poor; 50% believed that the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer was less than 1 in 100 women and 75% were not aware that age is a risk factor. Thirty-one percent of women reported low levels of confidence to detect a breast change and 19% rarely or never checked their breasts. Those with fewer educational qualifications had poorer knowledge of symptoms, less awareness of lifetime and age-related risks, but were more likely to check their breasts than more highly educated women. This national survey demonstrates a significant lack of the prerequisite knowledge and confidence to detect a breast change. Raising breast cancer awareness and promoting early presentation among older women is important, as they are more at risk of breast cancer and more likely to delay seeking help with breast cancer symptoms than younger women.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1221 - 1225


Aged, Awareness, Breast Neoplasms, Breast Self-Examination, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Risk Factors, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom