HEALTH bosses in Blackpool say they are encouraged by recent national figures showing nearly three quarters of women are now attending breast screening, but they say they want to see that rise to 100 per cent.
Blackpool has some of the highest rates of breast cancer in the country and breast care nurse specialist Lynette Bracegirdle wants to stress screening saves lives.
Around 300 women and eight men are given the devastating news they have the illness every year.
In the North West, 71 per cent of women aged 50 to 70 are attending breast screening and in the North Lancashire breast screening unit area – which includes Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, that figure was close to 72 per cent. Cancer detection rates are now the highest in women for 70 years, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Lynette, who works for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is encouraging nearly three quarters of ladies are attending for breast screening, but this needs to be raised to one hundred per cent in an ideal world.
“Screening can find cancer earlier, before it can be felt and the earlier it is found, the better chance of survival.”
She said some women might feel nervous about screening, especially if it was their first time, but knowing what to expect could make them feel more comfortable.
“Screening takes place in a special clinic or mobile breast screening unit, a mammogram or x-ray of the breast is taken by a female health professional.
“The breast is placed on the machine and gently but firmly compressed with a clear plate, two x-rays are taken of each breast at different angles.
“Most women find this compression uncomfortable and occasionally painful, however the compression is necessary to ensure the mammogram is clear, any discomfort will be over quickly.”
She added women were still urged to check their own breasts for any changes.
“Not all cancers are found during breast screening, breast cancer can develop between screening appointments. Even if you go for breast screening, it is important to get to know your own breasts, so you can spot any unusual changes early on and report them to your GP.
“Women aged 50 to 70, registered with a GP, are invited automatically for screening every three years, although the NHS is extending this to women aged 47 to 73 in the coming year. The first invitation could be between 50 and 53.
“The message to all women is please do attend – breast screening does save lives.”