GPs issue breast cancer screening plea in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge

09 October 2019

GPs in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) are supporting a national drive to raise breast cancer awareness and improve local screening rates. 

Women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for regular breast screening every three years under a national NHS programme. This can help detect the disease at an early stage when there is a better chance of successful treatment. 

Latest data shows take-up rates for screening in Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge were 67 per cent and 70.7 per cent respectively – below the national average of 74.9 per cent. In Havering, the rate is slightly higher at 78.4 per cent. 

To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout October, GPs across BHR are keen to help as many people as possible recognise and understand the signs and symptoms of the disease – as well as encouraging women in the target age group to respond to their screening invitations. 

More than 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and around one in eight UK women will develop the disease in their lifetimes. Four out of five cases are in women over 50. 

Some of the most common symptoms include: 

  • A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit; it’s possible you would be able to feel, but not see it
  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • A change in skin texture, such as puckering or dimpling of the skin
  • A change in the colour of the breast, making it look red or inflamed
  • Changes to the nipple such as a rash or crusting
  • Any unusual discharge from either nipple 

Pain in one or both breasts is not by itself a symptom, but when combined with one or more of the above indicators, or if it is an unusual pain that persists over time, it may be. Having these symptoms does not mean you have breast cancer, but you should see your GP if you do exhibit one or more. 

The awareness month, run by charity Breast Cancer Now, is also helping raise funds for Wear It Pink, which will support research to prevent breast cancer, efforts to stop people dying from the disease, and care for those who have it. The charity’s goal is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and that everyone developing it today will receive the support they need to live well now. 

Dr Kanika Rai, clinical lead for cancer at NHS Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), said: 

“Breast Cancer Awareness month is a great opportunity to make sure that everyone recognises the importance of screening in case you have symptoms that lead to breast cancer. 

“If you exhibit any of the symptoms of breast cancer, please seek an appointment with your GP. It may be nothing, but if it leads to an early diagnosis, it may be the difference between saving your life or not.” 

For more information, please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer or www.wearitpink.org.