A study found that older women are often denied treatments available to younger patients.
Data presented today at the National Cancer Intelligence Network Conference reveals that women over 70 are less likely to have surgery to treat their illness.
Researchers examined the records of more than 23,000 women with breast cancer in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North-east from 1997 to 2005.
They found that surgery rates fell with age and that even when other illnesses were taken into account, older women were still less likely to be operated on.
More than 85 per cent of women aged 65 to 70 had surgery but this fell to 70 per cent in the over-70s and 50 per cent in the over-80s.
Those from deprived areas were also less likely to have surgery.
Dr Katrina Lavelle of the University of Manchester said: “Surgery to remove tumours is one of the most effective ways to treat this cancer so it’s important to get a better understanding of what lies behind these differences.”
Dr Rachel Greig of Breakthrough Breast Cancer said: “This adds to our fears about discrepancies in breast cancer treatment.”
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: “Cancer patients, irrespective of age, should expect to have the best chance of survival and get the best treatment. However as this research shows, this is not always the case. Age discrimination is not acceptable in a modern NHS.”
More than 48,000 British women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and it causes more than 12,000 deaths.
Article from Express