Screening and early detection are vital tools

Breast screening
Breast screening
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DOCTOR CALLING: By Doctor Kevin Hill

As we approach the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October, South Lincolnshire CCG continues to raise awareness of the importance of screening and early detection of breast cancer.

Nationally more than 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK with a further 5,500 additional women diagnosed with an earlier (non-invasive) form of breast cancer, called in situ breast carcinoma. These are confined to a specific area of the breast (usually milk ducts) but may later develop the ability to spread.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women with one in eight women in the UK developing breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. The good news is that most women will survive breast cancer if it is detected and treated early. Breast screening provides early detection in women who appear well and do not have any symptoms of the disease. Additionally around 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK.

More women than ever are surviving breast cancer thanks to better awareness, better screening and better treatments. An estimated five out of six women diagnosed with breast cancer in England and Wales survive for at least five years. However, nearly 1,000 UK women still die of breast cancer every month.

Dr Kevin Hill, GP and Chair of South Lincolnshire CCG said: “In many cases, breast cancer is detected by women noticing unusual changes in their breast and taking the initiative to visit their GP.

“These changes can include unusual lumps, breast pain, changes in texture of the skin or unusual discharge. We recommend that all women should check themselves regularly and be aware of how their breasts look and feel normally so that anything unusual is more easily spotted and can be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.”

Currently, women aged 50-70 who are registered with a GP are automatically invited for breast screening every three years. In England, the NHS has extended this age range so that women aged 47 to 73 are to be invited for screening. Women under the age of 47 will not be offered routine screening unless they have been identified as being higher risk, for example because of their family history.