Michael Fabricant has joined forces with other MPs of all political
parties and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the UK’s leading breast cancer
charity, to highlight the need for all women aged 50 and over in the
west midlands to attend their breast-screening appointments when
Breast screening invites are sent to all women aged between 50 and 65
every three years and this is being extended to women up to 70 by the
end of 2004. New research from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Breast Cancer and Breakthrough, with the support of Kodak’s Health
Imaging Group, reveals not all women in this age group are taking
advantage of the service.
Michael Fabricant says: "Breast cancer is now the UK’s most common
cancer with over 40,000 women diagnosed from the disease each year and
one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some stage
during their lifetime.
"The earlier breast cancer is detected the better your chances of
survival. The NHS Breast Screening Programme is a vital and effective
part of the UK’s efforts to reduce the death toll from this devastating
disease but it’s essential women in Staffordshire and the rest of the
West Midlands take advantage of this and attend when invited."
In their report published this month, the All-Party Parliamentary Group
and Breakthrough reveal that one in six women not attending their breast
screening invitations say it is because the appointment given to them
was not convenient. As a result they cancelled it and never rearranged
another time. The report also recognises that in some areas of the
country the uptake of screening invitations falls as much as 20% short
of the NHS Breast Screening Programme’s 70% target.
The research, a survey of 2,500 women, also suggest that women aged 50
plus, and therefore eligible for the NHS Breast Cancer Screening
Programme, underestimate the benefits of the breast screening and at the
same time overestimate their own ability to spot signs of the disease.
Of those women surveyed who reported not attending their breast
* Approximately one in 14 (7%) thought they were not in a
high-risk category for developing the disease – although over 80% of all
breast cancers occur in women aged 50 and over and your risk of
developing the disease increases the older you get.
* Nine per cent said they felt they knew their own bodies well
enough to spot breast cancer – despite the fact that of all the breast
cancers detected by the screening programme, over half are too small to
be felt by the human hand and that a lump in the breast or armpit is not
the only sign of the disease.
* One in 10 said they would rather not know whether they had
breast cancer or not – even though the sooner breast cancer is
diagnosed and treated the better the chances of survival.
As a result the All-Party Group on Breast Cancer and Breakthrough are
calling on the Health Secretary to investigate ways to make the
screening service more flexible and accessible to the women it was set
up to serve, as well as putting renewed effort into public education
that promotes the importance of attending appointments and makes people
more aware of the common signs and symptoms of breast cancer.