HAMPSHIRE women over 70 are being warned not to assume they are past it when it comes to cancer.

One in three women diagnosed with breast cancer in the Wessex region each year are over 70 but worryingly many are unaware that the chances of getting breast cancer increases with age.

Public Health England has found that four in ten women in the area wrongly think females of all ages are equally likely to get the disease, when in fact the risk increases with age.

Around 840 women aged 70 and over are diagnosed with breast cancer in Wessex each year, yet survival rates are lower in this age group compared to younger women.

Lack of awareness of symptoms other than a lump, such as changes in the shape or size of the breast, is believed to be one of the reasons for this, which the new national campaign Be Clear on Cancer, supported by actress Barbara Windsor, pictured right, aims to change.

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival – more than 90 per cent of all women diagnosed with the earliest stage survive for at least five years. This figure is around 15 per cent for women diagnosed at a late stage.

M a r y O’Brien, consultant in healthc a r e p u b l i c health at Wessex Public Health England Centre, said: “Research shows that women over 70 have low awareness of breast cancer symptoms, other than a lump.

“They’re also more likely to delay presenting to their GP with breast cancer, which could ultimately affect their chance of survival.

“One in three women who get breast cancer are over 70, so don’t assume you’re past it or dismiss any symptoms as a sign of ageing.”

The new campaign will hit television screens in March.