Number of older women with breast cancer set to quadruple by 2040
New research funded by Macmillan Cancer Support has found that the number of women over 65 in the UK living with breast cancer will almost quadruple by 2040.
By 2040, there will be more than one million women in the UK living with breast cancer aged 65 and over. This is almost quadruple the number of older women currently living with the disease, according to the research. There were 340,000 breast cancer cases in 2010. It is estimated to increase to 1,220,000 by 2040.
The research was conducted by King’s College London. The results were recently published in the British Journal of Cancer. The study reveals that by 2040, 73% of all breast cancer survivors will be 65 and over. Today, 59% of the women with breast cancer are 65 or over.
Older women are currently much less likely to receive early diagnosis for advanced breast cancer. They are also less likely to undergo breast conserving surgery when compared to their younger counterparts. In addition, only a small percentage of them undergo breast reconstructive surgery.
“We need to change the way we care for older breast cancer patients now - so that we are prepared for such a dramatic increase in numbers,” said Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The research also showed that the projected increase in breast cancer among the women over 65 is almost double the increase for younger age groups.
Macmillan is calling for all cancer services to ensure that treatment decisions are based on objective assessment of patients as opposed to age-based assumptions.
“We can no longer tolerate the present situation where too many cancer doctors are making assumptions based on age which often result in older women receiving inadequate care for their breast cancer,” added Mr Devane.