Women to get better NHS breast screening services

Pic: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Women in Hackney will benefit from improvements to breast screening equipment this year thanks to a £1.1 million NHS grant.

As part of the NHS’s £6 million nationwide fund to improve cancer care and screening, NHS East London and the City has been given money to invest in breast screening equipment that takes digital images. The advanced technology allows the image quality to be checked immediately. This can reduce the need to call women back to recheck because of low quality x-rays.

Currently, breast screening is provided in mobile units that travel around. However, the new equipment will be available at a central, fixed site in each borough so local women can access them easily.

Marie Gabriel, chair of NHS East London and the City, said: “Local women deserve the best quality care available, as well as easier access to facilities. This funding will enable us to improve the screening services we offer to women across East London and the City.”

According to the NHS policy, women registered with a GP will automatically receive their first invitation letter to attend a mammogram between the ages of 50 to 53. They will then be invited every three years until their 70th birthday. After that women have to contact the local breast screening unit on their own to make an appointment.

Around 40,000 women are invited every year from Hackney and the City, Tower Hamlets, Camden, Islington, Newham and Waltham Forest. Although an increasing number of eligible women are attending the appointment, NHS statistics show that it is still not as high as other parts of England.

“I would encourage every woman who gets an invitation to attend the breast screening appointment,” said Gabriel.

NHS reports show that in Britain an estimated 1,400 lives have been saved each year by breast screening.

May Cahill, clinical director at NHS East London and the City, said: “The chances are that your x-ray will be ‘normal’, but if not, the time to know is now.”

The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. However, there are more options to treat cancer if found at an early stage, hence the chances of survival are higher.

“Evidence suggests that digital breast screening equipment can detect breast cancer at an early stage. The implementation of digital mammography in Hackney and Newham will make access for patients easier than ever before,” said Cahill.

For more information about breast screening contact the Central and East London Breast Screening Service on 020 3465 6631 or visit celbreastscreening.org.uk.

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