With everything that is going on in the world at the moment alongside navigating day-to-day life it’s almost impossible to check off everything from your ‘to do’ list.
We know that vital cancer screenings were paused at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but as services open again, we are here to remind you to attend your routine breast screening appointment.
Currently, women aged over 50 are invited to attend a mammogram (a breast screen) by letter. The scan may take place in a clinical setting, or it could take place in a mobile unit near to where you live (I’ve even seen them in Tesco car park). The location will be outlined in the letter.
That said, how many times have you forgotten something on your ‘to do’ list – gone to the supermarket and come out with everything apart from the thing you went for. Forgot a relative’s birthday, forgot to take your medication?
In certain areas of the country women receive and SMS reminder regarding their breast screening – but in many areas women due their screening will receive only the invitation letter. We have been campaigning for SMS reminders to be introduced for all NHS cancer screenings (cervical, breast and bowel).
We estimate if everyone due a cancer screening in the UK received and SMS reminder to book or attend their screening, 7800 lives would be saved each year.
To read more about the #RemindUs campaign visit here
Please sign our petition to support us to save lives across England with this simple intervention.
So, what is breast screening and how often should I go…
Who is invited for breast screening?
Women registered with a GP in England are invited for breast screening aged 50-71
How often am I invited?
Every three years, your first screening invite will between the age of 50 and 53. Those who have been assessed as ‘high risk’ will be invited for yearly screenings
What is classed as high risk?
Talk to your GP if you think you may be at higher risk of developing breast cancer, this could be because there is a history of it in your family or a history of ovarian cancer. Your GP can then refer you if appropriate. This can be done at any age
Can I be screened after 71?
You can request screening after 71 but you will need to request this from your GP
Can I be screened under 50?
If you are deemed high risk, you may be invited for screening at any age based on your family history
What happens at a breast screening appointment?
This involves having a mammogram (fancy word for x-ray) at a screening unit. Either in a hospital or sometimes in a mobile unit.
Staff will welcome you and take any questions that you may have, you will need to undress to the waist – so dresses may be a bit impractical!
The mammographer will explain the procedure and then will take 2 x-rays of each breast with the mammogram machine. This involves placing each breast into the machine with a plastic plate on top to flatten the breast to enable a clear picture to be taken.
As with all x-rays the mammographer will go behind a screen while the images are taken, while you stay as still as possible.
The whole appointment should take less than half an hour and the images take only a few minutes.
For more information on what to expect at your mammogram or regarding breast screening visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer-screening/