Doctors warn women not to miss out on free breast screening

CHECK-UP A woman being screened for breast cancer
CHECK-UP A woman being screened for breast cancer
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MORE women in Portsmouth are going to free breast cancer screening, according to the latest NHS figures.

In the financial year 2012/13, 74.2 per cent of women –13,418 – were checked.

This is an increase on the year previous, which saw 12,804, or 73.2 per cent screened.

Although Portsmouth is above the national target of 70 per cent, it is below the regional average of 78.5.

Women aged between 53 and 70 have an increased risk of developing breast cancer and are offered routine screening.

Now the Department of Health is bringing in an increase in the programme to extend the age range to 47 to 73.

Those eligible are given letters, inviting them to attend free screenings. In the last financial year 18,084 women were written to.

Sue Saunders is a superintendent radiographer for the breast screening and symptomatic mammography services, which is run by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

She said: ‘We are pleased to see that the latest figures for 2012/13 show a slight increase in the number of eligible women taking up their breast screening appointments.

‘The National Breast Screening Programme has started to extend the eligible age range to 47 to 73, so if you are in this age group and are invited please attend.

‘Regular screening can lead to early detection, which is proven to save lives so we encourage women to attend their appointment.

‘If you are unable to make your appointment, please do contact us to rearrange. We don’t want anyone to miss out on their opportunity to be screened.’

This message has been echoed by Dr Jim Hogan, the lead GP for the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group.

He said: ‘Breast cancer is now a treatable condition, so to miss it is a disaster.

‘There’s still a clear number of the female population who do not understand the importance of free screenings.

‘Early detection is always the best, and if women are concerned about the screening, then they should talk to a friend or GP, about the process.’

Here are things to know:

· Look out for lumps, pain, discharge from the nipple.

· Look at and feel your breasts regularly for any changes.

· Tell your GP about any changes straight away.

· Go for breast screening when invited.