GPs in Newham are supporting a national drive to raise breast cancer awareness and improve local screening rates.
Women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for regular breast screening every three years under a national NHS programme. This can help detect the disease at an early stage when there is a better chance of successful treatment.
Latest data shows that take up rates in Newham sat at 63.1 per cent in 2018 compared to the national average of 74.9 per cent.
To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout October, GPs across Newham are keen to help as many people as possible recognise and understand the signs and symptoms of the disease – as well as encouraging women in the target age group to respond to their screening invitations.
More than 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and around one in eight UK women will develop the disease in their lifetimes. Four out of five cases are in women over 50.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit; it’s possible you would be able to feel, but not see it
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
- A change in skin texture, such as puckering or dimpling of the skin
- A change in the colour of the breast, making it look red or inflamed
- Changes to the nipple such as a rash or crusting
- Any unusual discharge from either nipple.
Pain in one or both breasts is not by itself a symptom, but when combined with one or more of the above indicators, or if it is an unusual pain that persists over time, it may be. Having these symptoms does not mean you have breast cancer, but you should see your GP if you do exhibit one or more.
The awareness month, run by charity Breast Cancer Now, seeks to raise funds for Wear It Pink, which will go towards activities based around research to prevent breast cancer, efforts to stop people dying from it, and care for those that do have it. Their goal is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and that everyone developing it today will receive the support they need to live well now.
Dr Helen Stedeford, a local GP and cancer clinical lead at Newham NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
"Breast Cancer Awareness month is a great opportunity to ensure that women aged 50-70 know they're entitled to breast screening. This involves a check every three years to detect breast cancer at an early stage before symptoms develop.
“It's also a good time to remind everyone to see their GP if they notice breast symptoms, such as a persistent lump or skin changes. Most of the time these don't have a serious cause but seeing a doctor is the best way to get an accurate and timely diagnosis, meaning a better chance of cure if it is cancer."