Health > Breast Cancer in Elderly and the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
2nd Feb 2021

Breast Cancer in Elderly and the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer in elderly women in India is a growing concern, with one in every eight women being vulnerable to this serious disease. Experts say that the number of women who have breast cancer is increasing RAPIDLY in India. This disease often shows many symptoms in the beginning, but most people ignore it. If it is identified in time, then effective treatment is possible for breast cancer. It can be cured.

In this article, we will reveal the critical information about breast cancer in elders along with the warning signs of breast cancer for seniors; followed by answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the subject.

Top 5 Warning Signs of Breast Cancer in Seniors

Here are the following five warning signs that may indicate breast cancer, which no one should ignore.

Lumps or Warts in the Breast

It is one of the most common symptoms seen in cases of breast cancer. Lumps in the breast should be examined carefully, even if the lumps are soft.

Swelling of the whole Breast or any part

Any kind of inflammation in one part of the breast or the entire breast, is another serious sign that one should not ignore. Although it can also occur due to an infection or other conditions, it is crucial to determine nodes if there are other symptoms such as breast skin irritation and dimpling. A breast examination done by yourself will help to check for any abnormal changes. If this happens, the lady should contact the doctor immediately.

Changes in Breast Skin

Any type of change in the skin of the breast can also be a sign of breast cancer, including burning/reddening of the skin. Skin thickening, dimpling of breast tissue, or any other change in skin texture

Changes in Nipple

One should not ignore the discharge of any abnormal fluid from the nipple. Also, the nipple depressing inwards can be a symptom of breast cancer. If there is a pain in the nipple, connect with the doctor immediately.

Lump in Underarm

If there is a lump in the underarm, it is very likely related to the breasts. The breast tissue spreads right up to the underarm. Also, breast cancer can spread from the lymph nodes present below the hands.

Along with the aforementioned warning signs, here are some other common symptoms that could indicate breast cancer in elders:

  • Sticky substance discharging from the nipple like blood, pus, or mucus.
  • Unusual change in nipple size.
  • Constant pain.
  • Long-lasting marks on the breast on pressing it.
  • Exfoliation of the skin around the breast and nipples and slow healing of wounds.
  • Pits in the breast.
  • Clear sight of blood vessels in the breast.
  • Nipple ingress.
  • The difference in shape and size of the breast and nipple.
  • Wrinkles on the skin of the breast (the skin looks like an orange peel).
  • A clear view of the milk glands inside the breast.
  • Red or hyper-sensitivity of breast.

Causes of Breast Cancer in Seniors

Due to an unhealthy lifestyle and diet, women are increasingly falling prey to breast cancer. Keeping a cellphone close tothe breast, in a pocket or near your body while sleeping, alcohol intake or smoking, incorrect antiperspirants, birth control pills, some hormonal changes, and iodine deficiency, can lead to breast cancer. Apart from this, increased weight, increasing age, and the birth of the first child at an older age also increase breast cancer chances. Additionally, this disease can also be caused by heredity. We have further listed some common causes of breast cancer in elders.

Increasing Age

The risk of breast cancer increases with age. So elders are more prone to such cancers.


If a blood relative has or has had breast cancer, the person is more likely to develop breast cancer.

History of Breast Cancer or breast lumps

Elderly Women who were previously diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to develop the disease again.

Dense breast tissue

People who have comparatively dense breasts tissue are at higher risk, thus they should be more vigilant.

Hormone treatments

Extended exposure to estrogen increases breast cancer risk.


Overweight women may also have a higher chance of developing breast cancer after menopause, possibly due to higher estrogen levels.

Excessive Alcohol

Regular and high amounts of alcohol consumption play a role in the development of breast cancer. Studies by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have consistently found that women who consume alcohol have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who do not.

Radiation risk

Undergoing chemotherapy for other types of cancer may increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

Oral Contraception

According to NCI studies, taking oral contraception pills may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer.

Apart from all this, there are other reasons too. The real reason for breast cancer is still not found. Many on-going studies suggest that the causes are still unclear, but some factors can increase its risk. Please NOTE that some elderly women may develop breast cancer without any risk factors. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get the disease, and not all risk factors will have the same effect.

Along with lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and consuming alcohol, and eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish, and low-fat products, and regular mammograms is the correct approach to avoid these risk factors.

In the next section, we will address the frequently asked questions on breast cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions on Breast Cancer

Have you been recently diagnosed with breast cancer? If so, we understand that numerous questions might be troubling your mind. Don’t worry; we’re here to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about breast cancer. Elderly women who haven’t received a diagnosis should also read these FAQs to learn about easy prevention methods for this deadly disease. Before scrolling down, remember: breast cancer is curable. So, stop worrying and arm yourself with adequate information to tackle it effectively.

What to do when the symptoms of breast cancer appear?

As soon as anyone sees any of the above-mentioned symptoms, they should contact the doctor immediately. Talk frankly with the doctor and if someone in the family has had breast cancer before, then tell them this. After this, the doctor will ask the patient to have a mammogram. They will also do a Biopsy if needed. If an elderly woman is found to have breast cancer, the doctor will suggest the right treatment, which can differ according to their situation.

When should I get a breast check?

ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommends that women in their 20s and 30s undergo breast exams every one to three years. After reaching 40, annual exams become necessary. Therefore, elderly women, even those with the slightest symptoms or none at all, should ensure regular or yearly checkups.

Additionally, ACOG advises women to start breast self-examinations in their 20s. They should promptly report any abnormalities found during these self-exams to a doctor.

Elderly women with a higher risk of breast cancer should include an annual MRI along with their yearly mammogram to monitor for any signs of the disease.

How do I reduce the risk of breast cancer?

People who are worried about being at risk of breast cancer should know that fundamental lifestyle changes can reduce breast cancer risk. If followed correctly, a lifestyle change can reduce it even in women at high risk. Here’s what one should do to reduce the risk of breast cancer:

  • Limit the use of alcohol: The use of alcohol is one of the prime reasons for breast cancer. Hence to reduce the risk of breast cancer, elderly women should stop or limit the use of alcohol.
  • Control the weight: Being obese is a clear invitation to many life-threatening diseases. It is a proven fact that overweight people are at higher risk of cancer; the same goes for breast cancer. People who have been slim and fit during their young-age and suddenly become overweight during their older years are at even higher risk of breast cancer. So to avoid it, control the weight. To know more about obesity in elders, check here.
  • Limit the hormone therapy: To reduce the risk of breast cancer, seniors should limit hormone therapy duration and doses. Regular doses of hormone therapy increase the risk of breast cancer by 50%.
  • Quit smoking: Do you want to reduce the risk of breast cancer? Well! Quit smoking immediately. There’s significant evidence that suggests that premenopausal women, who smoke, can develop breast cancer cells faster than their counterparts who don’t smoke.
  • Avoid radiation exposure: Many researches suggests that there’s a direct link between radiation and cancer. Various medical tests include radiation methods, which can increase the risk of breast cancer. Thus to avoid it, try not to come into direct exposure to radiation.
  • Avoid exposure to pollution: To avoid the risk of breast cancer, adults should avoid direct exposure to pollution. Pollution adversely affects their skin and respiratory system, leading to problems like breast cancer.
  • Be active: Being physically fit and active is the key to a happy life. By being physically active, one doesn’t only control the weight but also develops a stronger immunity to fight against many diseases, including breast cancer. For the older-adults, being active is an effective way to have a healthy and happy old age.

What are the possible treatments available for breast cancer?

Any cancer treatment is executed with two aims- one is to destroy the present cancer cells in the breast, and the other is to prevent these cells from reproducing in the future. On this basis, the possible cancer treatments are of two types-

  • Surgery: The surgery for breast cancer includes mastectomy and lumpectomy. In the former, doctors remove the entire breast from the body, and the latter consists of removing cancer-affected lumps in the breast.
  • Radiation Therapy: This is another way of destroying cancer cells in the body. With the help of high radio-active waves, radiation therapy doctors destroy the cancer cells in the breast.

How much time can I take to start treatment for breast cancer?

If diagnosed with breast cancer, you just can’t take any time to start the treatment. Although it won’t hurt to take a time of week or two to think about it, ideally, breast cancer treatment should begin from the very moment it is diagnosed.

Should I take a second opinion on breast cancer?

Second opinions never do any harm and only help the person to understand the possibility and severity of the disease. So if anyone diagnosed with breast cancer is planning for a second opinion, there’s no harm.

What else can I do?

Be aware of the symptoms and causes of breast cancer. In case elderly women come across any severe symptoms or any changes in the breast, they should consult their doctors without wasting any time. Lastly, just be open to the doctor about your health condition and family history, if any.

Every elderly woman must fulfill a responsibility towards herself. Be a part of this war against breast cancer and tell yourself and your family about it.

Elders with breast cancer should be given proper care and timely treatment. If any elderly woman at your place is suffering from it and you’re not able to look after her, you should hire professional care services, like us, at Emoha.

EMOHA is a leading caregiver service in DELHI-NCR. With the sole motto of keeping the elderly happy and healthy, professionals at Emoha always go one step ahead of their capacity to treat elders. For better Cancer-Care in Elders, connect with us at the toll-free number- 1800-203-5135 or by writing us at