Women urged to take up breast screening appointment

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month currently being marked across the UK in October, women in Leeds invited by the NHS for a free breast screening are being urged to book their appointment as soon as possible.

Every three years, women in the city aged between 50 and 70 years-old are routinely invited to undertake a screening, which involves a mammogram X-ray. The aim of the mammogram procedure is to detect any small changes in breast tissue that may indicate cancers that are too small to be seen or felt by the woman herself or a doctor.

A range of work is currently being undertaken to boost screening rates in Leeds, which have been impacted by the varied challenges of coronavirus. Breast screening saves around 1,300 lives each year in the UK.

One such project being delivered in the city seeking to improve participation in the screening programmes for breast cancer and also bowel cancer and cervical cancer is Cancer Wise Leeds. The project is funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, led by Leeds City Council and delivered in partnership with the Leeds Cancer Programme. Supporting this aim over the three-year programme are six Screening and Awareness coordinators. Working within Primary Care Networks in communities across the city, the coordinators are working with communities to better understand how the screening process could be improved to meet their needs.

Joining the coordinators and representatives of the NHS and Yorkshire Cancer Research on a special visit to Seacroft Hospital to view an additional breast screening van now in operation from this month in the city was Leeds City Council’s executive member for public health, Cllr Salma Arif. The additional screening van has set a target of screening an additional 1,000 people per month over a six-month period and will play an important role in meeting the backlog due to delays created by Covid-19.

Dr Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research, Services and Policy at Yorkshire Cancer Research said:

“As a charity, we aim to save lives in Yorkshire by encouraging more people to take part in screening. Breast screening helps find cancer at an early stage when it is too small to see or feel. When cancer is found early, it can often be treated successfully.

“As a result of the pandemic, there are now many women living in Leeds who may have missed a screening appointment or had their appointment delayed. It is important women take up the offer of breast cancer screening when invited. Screening can find breast cancers earlier, when they can be more successfully treated.

“Covid-secure measures are still in place during appointments to ensure those attending screening can do so in safe way.”

Dr Sarah Forbes, Associate Medical Director at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and joint clinical lead for the Leeds Cancer Programme, said:

“Unfortunately, breast cancer is all too common, affecting one in eight women in the UK. If it’s caught early, however, there’s a really good chance of recovery, so it’s very important that women check their breasts regularly for any changes and always get any changes examined by their GP.

“Breast cancer can have a number of symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump – most lumps turn out not to be serious but it’s always best to have them checked. Your GPs in Leeds are here for you and early detection is key.”

Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member with responsibility for Public Health and Active Lifestyles, said:

“Through different partnership initiatives such as Cancer Wise Leeds we are working extremely hard as a city to not only increase uptake in screenings, but also support various initiatives focusing on the key areas of prevention and awareness.

“Screening plays a hugely vital role in detecting cancer early, and we would urge anyone who has been invited for a breast screening in Leeds to please book their appointment immediately.

“It was fantastic to be able to pay a visit to the additional breast screening van introduced in Leeds by the NHS this month, and to find out more of the work it will do to help increase the number of screenings that are taking place.”

Women who are in between screening appointments are also being asked to check their bodies for any symptoms of breast cancer.

Symptoms can include: a new lump on or near the breast, a change in breast size, discharge from the nipple, a rash around the nipple and a change of look in the skin such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness. Whilst most breast lumps are not cancerous, anyone displaying any of the symptoms is asked to please book an appointment with their GP at the earliest possible opportunity.


This post is based on a press release issued by Cancer Wise Leeds

Photo: Cllr Salma Arif, Casey Russell, Cancer Screening and Awareness Coordinator, Cancer Wise Leeds and Advanced Practitioner Stephanie Lenoire-Payne. Leeds Teaching Hospitals, view and discuss the breast screening process and the technology used.