10 May 2019

The National Audit of Breast Cancer in Older Patients (NABCOP), carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons and the Association of Breast Surgery, published its annual report on Thursday 9 May 2019 evaluating the care given to women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2017, in NHS hospitals in England and Wales. The report found that women aged 70 years and older with early invasive breast cancer are less likely to receive surgery and adjuvant treatments than those aged 50 to 69 years. This is the case even when there are no severe fitness or medical problems identified.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said:

“This vital report suggests that unconscious ageism still exists in the way many women over 70 are being treated for breast cancer on the NHS. It’s really concerning that many older breast cancer patients are still not receiving surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy despite being fit enough to undergo these treatments.

“With around one in three breast cancers occurring in women over 70, we urgently need to understand why there continues to be such variation in their care. It is essential that all treatment decisions are made according to a patient’s suitability for treatment, including their fitness, general health and preference, and not on age alone.

“We now urge breast care units across the NHS to review their local data and investigate the reasons why patients may not be getting the treatments they need. It’s vital the recommendations in this report are now taken forward to ensure all breast cancer patients of all ages receive the best possible care.”


For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Sophie Softley Pierce at press@breastcancercare.org.uk or on 07702 901 334.

Notes to Editors: ​

About Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now:

  • Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now is a company limited by guarantee registered in England (9347608) and a charity registered in England and Wales (1160558), Scotland (SC045584) and Isle of Man (1200). From 1 April 2019, Breast Cancer Now’s registered name will be Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now.
  • From 1 April 2019, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now will be merging to create one charity for everyone affected by breast cancer, united by the shared ambition that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live and be supported to live well.​

About Breast Cancer Care:

  • When you have breast cancer, everything changes. Time becomes measured in appointments. The next scan. The next results. The next challenge.
  • Breast Cancer Care is the only specialist UK wide charity providing support for women, men, family and friends affected by breast cancer. We’ve been caring for them, supporting them, and campaigning on their behalf since 1973.
  • Today, Breast Cancer Care continues to offer a unique range of support including reliable information, one-to-one support over the phone and online from nurses and people who’ve been there. They also offer local group support across the UK.
  • From the moment someone notices something isn’t right, through to their treatment and beyond, Breast Cancer Care is there to help anyone affected by breast cancer feel more in control.
  • For care, support and information from day one, call Breast Cancer Care free on 0808 800 6000 or visit breastcancercare.org.uk.  Follow us on twitter, facebook or Instagram

About Breast Cancer Now:

  • Breast Cancer Now’s ambition is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live – and live well. The charity is determined to stop women dying from the disease, working in a new, collaborative way and bringing together all those affected by the disease to fund research, share knowledge and find answers.
  • Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, funding world class research focused entirely on breast cancer. The charity supports nearly 380 of the world’s brightest researchers at 31 locations across the UK and Ireland. Together, they’re working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives. 
  • The UK still has one of the lowest breast cancer survival rates in Western Europe and this year alone around 11,500 women will lose their lives. It’s time to act.
  • For more information on Breast Cancer Now’s work, visit breastcancernow.org or follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.