NHS South East Essex, in partnership with Southend University Hospital, is launching a new breast screening campaign to encourage women to attend mammogram appointments.
Mammograms can detect small changes in breast tissue, which may go unnoticed by a physical examination. This tissue can be an early indication of breast cancer, and detecting it at an early stage can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.
During October and November, women in Thorpe Bay and Rayleigh between the age of 50 and 70, who are registered with a GP, will be sent an appointment to visit their local mobile breast screening unit. These units are currently being redesigned and will be themed around the Calendar Girls film/play.
Models, pictured on the breast screening units, will be making appearances at the GP surgeries and local pharmacies where the unit is based to encourage eligible women to attend their mammogram appointments.
A new website www.essexbreastscreening.nhs.uk has also been set up to provide local women with more information about the service. An online facility that allows patients to change their existing appointments is also being developed.
Local GP and Medical Director for NHS South East Essex, Dr Rupert Halliday said: “I and my fellow GPs in South Essex would urge all eligible women to attend NHS breast screening.
“The service is consistent in its high standards; it’s time-efficient and free. More importantly, it gives every woman either positive assurance that they are clear, or the best possible chance to beat breast cancer.
“Whatever you do, don’t leave it too late. Start screening as soon as you receive your first invitation letter from NHS South Essex, which is any time between the ages of 50 and 53 depending on when the mobile unit is in your area.”
Ann Jones, receptionist in Southend Hospital Breast Unit, has undergone treatment for breast cancer in the past.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 50 and referred to Southend Breast Unit. I was in shock for the first four months. It was an extremely frightening time, but I have three daughters and felt I needed to keep it together for them.
I can’t tell you how much I like working here and being a patient – obviously I’d rather not be a patient, but if you have to be one, there’s no better place to be. Everyone who works here cares deeply about each and every patient. The support is wonderful.
I’m 62 now and I feel lucky every year it doesn’t come back. I celebrate every birthday and make the most of my life, my children and grandchildren.”
Breast screening is provided free of charge every three years to women aged 50-70 who are registered with a GP. It is also open to women over 70, but they will need to book an appointment by calling the breast screening unit on 01702 385024.