South West London Breast Screening Programme
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British fashion icon visits breast screening unit at Charing Cross Hospital

Zandra Rhodes calls for more women to attend for breast screening

British fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes CBE, who is the Mayor’s Breast Cancer Ambassador for London, called on women to attend their breast screening appointment when she visited the screening and assessment suite at Charing Cross Hospital yesterday (30 October, 2013).

Zandra, famous for her striking and colourful designs which she sells around the world, said: “Breast cancer is a devastating disease but early detection makes all the difference. Screening finds breast cancers at an early stage when they are too small to see or feel. And we know that the earlier women are diagnosed, the simpler the treatment and the higher the chance of success. Too many women in London are missing the opportunity of having this life-saving test.”

Zandra had a tour of the screening and assessment suite, which is run by the West of London Breast Screening Service, and met with staff and the commissioners of the service, NHS England. The service screens approximately 35,000 women from west London a year and diagnoses between 200 and 300 cancers.

Deborah Cunningham, lead clinician for women’s cancers at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, thanked Zandra for attending the event. She said: “We are delighted that Zandra is encouraging women to attend for screening. We now have fabulous purpose-built screening clinics in Ealing, Hammersmith, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Westminster, which replace the mobile vans previously used.

“All the clinics are equipped with state-of-the-art mammography systems which make it easier and faster for any breast abnormalities to be seen and a lower dose of radiation is used to acquire the images. The new clinics also offer greater comfort and privacy. Women who require further tests are invited to the assessment unit at Charing Cross Hospital.”
In the UK, women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for screening once every three years. An extension of the age range to include women aged 47 to 73 is currently being trialled. The borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has one of the lowest levels of uptake in the country with almost half of women not attending their appointment. Some 20 women from Hammersmith and Fulham die of breast cancer each year.

Increasing the number of women who attend for breast screening is a key priority for the service. A recent study which involved sending text message reminders shortly before appointments showed a significant increase in attendance, and it is hoped that this will be rolled out across west London.

Julie Somers, programme manager for the West of London Breast Screening Service, said: “Not enough women in west London attend for screening. If you are 53 or over and haven’t had a breast screen within the past three years, please contact the service to arrange an appointment. Screening only takes minutes, and Saturday and early evening appointments are available. Breast screening saves about one life from breast cancer for every 200 women who are screened. This adds up to about 1,300 lives saved each year.”


Breast tomosynthesis research study

Digital breast tomosynthesis is a new x-ray technique that takes multiple pictures of each breast from many angles. This allows 3-dimensional pictures to be created which may help doctors to read the mammogram more accurately. From January 2013, doctors from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust will be conducting a research study to see if digital breast tomosynthesis reduces the number of women asked back unnecessarily for further assessment following breast screening.

Women who are being screened for the first time and who are attending our breast screening clinic at Charing Cross Hospital will be invited to take part in the study. Women who are being screened for the first time at one of our other clinics and who want to take part in the study can change their appointment to Charing Cross. Click here to open online form.

Participating women will have a standard mammogram which involves compressing each breast in a mammography machine whilst two pictures are taken of each breast. To acquire the tomosynthesis images, the compression will be loosened slightly and four further images taken. These will be analysed along with the standard mammogram.

It is hoped that findings of the study will be published and influence future practice in the field of breast screening.

Watch a video of a digital breast tomosynthesis examination.

If you are interested in taking part in the research, click here for more information


EastEnders star calls for more women to attend breast screening

EastEnders star Laila Morse called on women to attend their breast screening appointment as she officially opened a new breast screening suite at Charing Cross Hospital on 11 October, 2012.

Laila said: “I’m extremely pleased to be opening this new screening suite. I had a lumpectomy and needed radiotherapy for 12 weeks after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. I’ve got the all-clear and am completely over it now.”

Laila, famous for her role as ‘Mo Harris’ in the long-running soap, said: “I really urge women to attend when they are invited for an appointment. Screening only takes a few minutes and saves many lives. If the disease is caught early you’ve got a much better chance.

“All the staff are very friendly and the new unit has a nice calming atmosphere which is important for women who may feel scared.”

Laila unveiled a wall plaque commemorating the opening which was attended by staff, patients, and local MPs Andy Slaughter and Greg Hands. Guests received a guided tour of the new unit, which is run by the West of London Breast Screening Service at the hospital and which replaces the mobile screening vans previously used.

Deborah Cunningham, lead clinician for women’s cancers at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, thanked Laila for attending the event. She said: “Attending breast screening is so important so we’re grateful that we have a high-profile celebrity to help get the message out.

“We now have a fabulous assessment suite which provides excellent facilities for women living in west London. We cover Hillingdon, Ealing, Hounslow, Hammersmith, Fulham, Chelsea, Westminster and the assessment unit serves this population. The state-of-the-art equipment makes it easier and faster for any breast abnormalities to be seen and a lower dose of radiation is used to acquire the images.

“We screen 10,000 women a year at Charing Cross. In total the service screened more than 35,000 women in the west London area last year. Our staff do their very best to look after the women who come here.”

In the UK women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for screening once every three years. An extension of the age range to include women aged 47 to 73 is being trialled. The borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has one of the lowest levels of uptake in the country with almost half of women not attending their appointment. Some 20 women from Hammersmith and Fulham die of breast cancer each year.

Julie Somers, programme manager for the West of London Breast Screening Service, said: “The suite is better designed for all clients including those with special needs. It is a bigger space and has a relaxed and reassuring atmosphere.”

She added: “Screening can detect breast cancer early, when it is too small for you or your doctor to see or feel. And we know that women who had early-stage breast cancer detected through screening and had treatment afterwards can live as long as the rest of the UK female population.”


New breast screening clinic for women living in Hillingdon

Local author and charity fundraiser Julia Hague, who lives in Uxbridge, opened the new breast screening clinic for Hillingdon women on 25 October. The clinic is run by the West of London Breast Screening Service, which is part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and replaces the mobile vans previously used.

Deborah Cunningham, lead clinician for women’s cancers at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I am delighted to welcome Julia Hague to officially open the new breast screening clinic at Uxbridge Health Centre."

“The new unit provides excellent facilities for women living in Hillingdon. The state-of-the-art equipment makes it easier and faster for any breast abnormalities to be seen and a lower dose of radiation is used to acquire the images. The new unit also offers an improved environment to the mobile screening vans we previously used.”

Julia said: “It is fantastic to see the new breast screening clinic and to meet the staff who deliver this very important service."

“Most women who don’t attend breast screening are afraid of what might be found. If they only realised that when they are screened they only find peace of mind or professional help. I really can’t urge women enough to attend when they are invited for an appointment. You have it in your own hands to make a difference to your own health. How wonderful is that?"

In the UK women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for screening once every three years. An extension of the age range to include women aged 47 to 73 is being trialled. The uptake of breast screening in Hillingdon, at 66 per cent, is below the national target (70 per cent). In 2010 43 Hillingdon women died of breast cancer.

Hillingdon doctor and Clinical Commissioning Group Board member Dr Trish Hurton said: “An early diagnosis of breast cancer means a better chance of survival. It is important that women attend regular breast screening checks as screening can detect breast cancer early, when it is too small for you or your doctor to see or feel."

“We know that women who had early-stage breast cancer detected through screening and had treatment afterwards can live as long as the rest of the UK female population."

Heema Shukla, consultant in Public Health and screening lead for NHS Hillingdon said “The PCT invested in having a local static site at Uxbridge Health Centre so that our residents would not have to travel to central London to have a mammogram when the mobile units were replaced. It also makes it easier for women to reschedule their appointments."

Julie Somers, programme manager for the West of London Breast Screening Service, said: “The new clinic is better designed for all clients including, those with special needs. The state-of-the-art equipment makes it easier and faster for any breast abnormalities to be seen and a lower dose of radiation is used to acquire the images."

“We have a bigger space and the clinic has a relaxed and reassuring atmosphere. And being right in the centre of Uxbridge means it’s easy for most women to get to."

   

Pioneering study at Charing Cross Hospital

A new clinical research study is currently taking place in the breast screening assessment clinic at Charing Cross Hospital.

Click here for details

Breast screening age extension trial

A new leaflet has recently been published about the breast screening age extension trial that is currently taking place.

Click here to download the leaflet

Informed Choice about Cancer Screening

Informed Choice about Cancer Screening has developed a new approach to information about cancer screening in England. It aims to provide people with what they need to make their own decision about whether or not to have cancer screening.

For more information click here.

Independent review into breast screening

In October 2012, an independent review into the effectiveness of the NHS Breast Screening Programme published its findings.

Find out more here

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