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Breast Cancer News

BREAST SCREENING FOR THE UNDER 50s

The news that Coronation Street star, Sally Whittaker, had discovered her breast cancer almost by chance is another reminder of the importance of screening in younger women. 46 year old Sally became more aware of breast cancer because in the Corrie story line her own character was undergoing treatment for the disease. This prompted her to check her own breasts and this is when she found a lump which unfortunately turned out to be cancer.

At just 46, Sally would not yet qualify for the national screening programme (50 years), but according to Dr Nick Perry, who heads up The London Breast Institute here at The Princess Grace Hospital, “Screening women between 40 and 50 saves lives and is routine in the USA. Breast Cancer is the commonest cause of death in women aged 35-54, and 40% of all life years lost to breast cancer are attributable to women under 50 who are diagnosed outside of a screening programme. Younger women tend to have more aggressive tumours and therefore can gain the most from early detection. Digital mammograms perform better and find more cancers.”

At the London Breast Institute we run a one-stop breast clinic and anyone can make an appointment for the following day for a mammogram without referral from a GP. There are others centres around London offering a similar service. So if you are between 40 and 50 and haven’t yet had a mammogram, then you should certainly consider having one – there is a cost attached but it is a relatively small price to pay compared with the peace of mind of knowing that you are well, or at the very worst that you can find out while the cancer is likely to be more easily treated.