Breast Cancer Awareness

Jennifer Robertson, a Putney constituent and Susie Brown from the UKBCC talked to Tony about the importance of Breast Treatment Services lobbied Putney's MP Tony Colman this week as part of the UK Breast Cancer Coalition (UKBCC) Annual Fly - In.

Mrs Robertson, a member of UKBCC is a Radiographer at Queen Mary's Hospital Roehampton and came to the Westminster Fly-in to raise awareness of the need for Breast Cancer Screening and the need for equal access for all patients, male and female for Breast Treatment services.


What is happening now?

Breast cancer is now the UK's most common cancer with over 400,000 women diagnosed with the disease each year. Early detection and diagnosis are vital to improve a woman's chances of surviving breast cancer and screening is one of the most effective ways of ensuring this.

South-West Thames Mammography Services are doing a very good job with Breast Screening, but it is important to raise awareness further of this important service. In 2002, 40,000 people were invited for screening in the South-West Thames area. 27,000 (67%) attended and 190 cancers were found in that number (4.9 per 1000 people). The first screening also showed that 8.2 cases per 1000 people were benign cases. The NHS currently provides breast screening every three years for all women aged 50 - 64, carrying out some 1,500,000 million a year. By 2004 the service will screen women up to the age of 70. This is a potentially life saving service of which it is important to raise awareness.

Tony Colman MP for Putney has joined forces with the UK's leading breast cancer charity, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the All- Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer to urge all women aged 50 and over in Putney to attend their breast -screening appointments when invited.

Around 9,500 cases of breast cancer are detected through screening each year and almost half of these are too small to be felt by hand. If it was not for screening, these cancers may not have been detected until a much later stage.

The biggest known risk factor in developing breast cancer is age, with around 80 per cent of cases occurring in post-menopausal women, aged 50 or over. But while routine screening invitations are sent to all women aged between 50 and 64 every three years, evidence suggests that not all women take advantage of this potentially life-saving service.

There may be many reasons why women do not attend their screening appointments and the All-Party Group on Breast Cancer is calling on the Government to conduct research to find out the possible reasons why.

Tony Colman MP for Putney says:

'It is a sobering thought that one in nine women in Putney will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. The good news is that more women than ever are surviving breast cancer and this in part is down the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

'The earlier breast cancer is detected the better your chances of survival. The NHS Breast Screening Programme is a vital and effective part of the UK's efforts to reduce the death toll from this devastating disease but it is essential women in Putney take advantage of this by attending when invited.'

It is important to note that your risk of breast cancer does not stop after the age of 65. Women over this age are entitled to, and can request, a routine screening appointment every three years, whether or not symptoms are apparent. Your GP can arrange this for you.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer campaigned vigorously for the extension of the screening programme which by 2004 will include women up to the age of 70.

30th October 2003

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