Breast cancer detection rates up

HUNDREDS more women in the region are being detected as having breast cancer through a screening programme compared to ten years ago.

Anthony Bond

HUNDREDS more women in the region are being detected as having breast cancer through a screening programme compared to ten years ago.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme is detecting twice the number of cancer cases nationally than it did ten years ago.

A report by The NHS Information Centre shows that 198,056 women in the East of England were screened in 2007/8 of which 1,697 were told they had cancer.


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Felixstowe resident Elizabeth Pearce, who co-founded Ipswich-based support group Breast Foot Forward, said screening was important.

“Early detection is very important and for certain people it could be a life or death situation if they have extreme cases. Obviously the earlier the cancer is detected the higher the chance of it being treated and dealt with properly.

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“There are a good number of women who are detected early and go on to lead a very healthy and normal life after the cancer.”

Nationally the figures show that The NHS Breast Screening Programme detected 14,110 cases in 2007/8 which is double the number in 1997-98 when it picked up 6,914 cases.

Of the cancers detected in 2007/8, 11,110 (78.7 %) were invasive - the most serious type. More than half of the invasive cancers (52.3 %) were less than 15mm and not detectable by hand.

The NHS Information Centre says the increase in the number of cancer cases could be the result of the expansion of the screening programme to cover 65 to 70-year-olds as well as 50 to 64-year-olds.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of The NHS Information Centre, said: “The report highlights the success of the programme in picking up thousands of cases of breast cancer at an earlier stage than they would have been otherwise.

“Undoubtedly, the programme is saving an increasing number of women's lives, not only as a result of improved coverage, but also as a result of its extension to include older women.

“The Cancer Reform Strategy, published in December 2007, gave the commitment that the breast screening programme will be expanded to women aged 47 to 73 by 2012. Current trends suggest this will help detect even more cancers at an early stage.”

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