Swindon AdvertiserTown bucking trend for breast screening (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Town bucking trend for breast screening

Swindon Advertiser: Melinda Messenger at the opening of the breast centre at the Great Western Hospital in 2011. She is being shown some of the equipment by breast centre lead radiographer Michelle Taylor Melinda Messenger at the opening of the breast centre at the Great Western Hospital in 2011. She is being shown some of the equipment by breast centre lead radiographer Michelle Taylor

DESPITE a national drop in the percentage of women being screened for breast cancer, Swindon is bucking the trend.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre for England reveals 76.4 per cent of women aged 53 to 70 – approximately 4.25m – had been screened within the previous three years.

The figure was calculated as of March 31, 2013, and is down on the 77 per cent who had been screened at the same point in 2012 and the 77.2 per cent in 2011.

The NHS Cancer Screening Programme says 70 per cent of women should be screened as a minimum.

However, in Swindon, of the 14,467 women eligible for screening in 2013, 11,427 were screened which equates to 79 per cent. This was slightly up on the 78.8 per cent the previous year.

Great Western Hospital breast centre manager Suzie Ferrari said work is ongoing to continually improve screening uptake numbers.

“The Wiltshire Breast Screening service works constantly to try to improve access to breast screening for the women of Wiltshire,” she said.

“Our recent initiatives have included an additional screening site at Moredon Health Centre, and involvement in GP practice education days.

“I know it can be quite a contentious issue, and not everyone agrees with it, but the benefits definitely outweigh the risks.

“Some people worry that they might have to have something done for something that wouldn’t have eventually killed them, especially older women.

“And some people worry about it being uncomfortable. But we are always happy to talk it through with them and they are welcome to come and visit us and see what is involved.

“It is all over very quickly – it is a little bit uncomfortable, and some people may find it a bit embarrassing, but it is not painful.”

Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said that nationally, it was disappointing to see the latest figures showed a slight fall and stressed the importance of screening.

“Early detection and regular screening saves lives and we encourage women to attend their appointment. Women are routinely screened in England between the ages of 50 to 70,” she said.

“Women aged 71 to 74 are not routinely invited for screening, and those aged 71 to 73 are being invited as part of a research trial currently being carried out by Public Health England.

“This trial is looking at the benefits and harms of screening women aged 71 to 73, and also of screening women aged 47 to 49.”

HSCIC chief executive, Alan Perkins, said: “It goes without saying that the impact of breast cancer on people and their families can be severe and life-changing – this is why data included in today’s report is so enormously important in trying to monitor, evaluate and understand the use and outcomes of the NHS Breast Screening programme in England.”

GET INVOLVED

  • THE Great Western Hospital is appealing to the public to help raise vital funds to bring ground-breaking breast cancer treatment to Swindon.
  • Brighter Futures, the GWH NHS Foundation Trust’s charity which helps to fund new treatments not available through the NHS budget, is hoping to raise £75,000 to help pay for a year’s worth of pioneering treatment.
  • The GWH would also be only one of a handful of UK hospitals and the only one in the south west offering the intra-operative radiotherapy, which zaps areas affected by breast cancer with radiotherapy while still in the operating room, and could make a huge difference to the lives of up to 150 women a year in Swindon
  • It means that patients can receive targeted radiotherapy rather than having to travel miles to centres in Oxford or Bath for frequent treatment over several weeks.
  • To help raise the cash, a number of fundraising events are already in place, including a 338 mile Three Cities Cycle Challenge from London to Brussels via Amsterdam in  August.
  • To suggest your own fundraising ideas or get involved with existing events, email fundraising@gwh.nhs.uk or call 01793 605631.
  • To donate to the Brighter Futures’ Breast Cancer Appeal, visit justgiving.com/brighterfutures3

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