The Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership are actively working to raise awareness about breast cancer symptoms and increase participation in preventive breast screening. This form of cancer is the most common in Yorkshire.
In Bradford District and Craven, the survival rates for stage one breast cancer, which is the earliest and localised stage, are impressively high, with the cancer being small and confined. This screening programme has demonstrated the most success in terms of health outcomes across the district.
Despite this, recent data indicates that only 51% of women in Bradford District and Craven attended breast screening, which is a 5% decrease compared to the previous year. The national benchmark for breast screening attendance stands at 70%.
New local initiatives involve engaging with men in the South Asian community to enhance their understanding of breast cancer and screening, facilitating life-saving discussions within families. Additionally, efforts are being made to address concerns within the Black African community, which has a higher likelihood of presenting with stage four or ‘secondary’ cancer (when the cancer has spread to at least one other organ).
The partnership recently organised a successful wellbeing and cancer screening session for individuals with learning disabilities and their support networks on Monday, 9th October. More such events are in the planning. Local residents are also invited to take behind-the-scenes tours of mobile breast screening units. This will provide them with insights into breast screening and what to expect. The tours are available at the Sainsbury’s car park in Keighley between 12pm and 4pm on Saturday, 21st October.
“One of the ways to check your breasts for signs and symptoms of breast cancer is to stand in front of the mirror with your clothes off and to raise your arms up and down, do this facing forward and sideways to see how your breasts are hanging. Get to know what is normal for you and if something is different always get it checked out by a healthcare professional at your GP practice,” explains Julie Hodgins, health promotion specialist at Pennine Breast Imaging at St Luke’s Hospital in Bradford.
Cath Hayes of Bradford was diagnosed at a breast screening appointment. “In 2013 there was a trial taking place in Bradford whereby women were being called for early breast screening. I was sent an appointment for a mammogram which showed an abnormality and I was recalled for a further test. The second mammogram confirmed the abnormality and I had an ultrasound and biopsy on the same day. The results of these further tests revealed a 6cm x 8cm mass in my right breast, within the ducts.
“Within 2 weeks I’d had a total mastectomy and lymph node removal operation at St. Lukes Hospital in Bradford. Luckily the lymph nodes were clear and I made a full recovery. I have had yearly mammograms since 2013, am still cancer free, fighting fit and living life to the full. If I had ignored the letter it could have been a very different story. I can’t stress enough the importance of screening and early detection, so if you get called for breast cancer screening, please, please attend the appointment…….it could save your life”.
Councillor Sarah Ferriby, the portfolio holder for Healthy People and Places, said: “There is some great work happening locally between the NHS, Bradford Council, University of Bradford and voluntary and community sector organisations. We’re hopeful that our joint efforts will reach more people than ever and ultimately increase the number of women coming forward from different communities for a potentially life-saving screening appointment. It’s also important that people check their breasts and look for changes and check anything new or unusual with your GP, even if you’re not currently in the age range eligible for cancer screening.
“A lot of women think they can’t see anything or feel anything so question why they should go to a breast screening appointment. The likelihood is that everything will be okay, but it’s important to get checked so our NHS can help you as soon as possible if treatment is needed. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50 and the risk continues to increase with age, so I’m urging those between the ages of 50 and 71 to take up the offer of a breast screening appointment when invited.”
For further information on breast screening, please visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk.