YORKSHIRE Cancer Research is urging women in Hull to visit their doctor if they notice any changes in their breasts after revealing statistics that show high levels of late diagnosis in the area.
Figures show that during 2013, 19.1% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in NHS Hull CCG were diagnosed at stages 3 or 4 1.
This is significantly higher than the England average, which saw 13.1% of cases diagnosed at a late stage, and the Yorkshire average, where 13.5% of cases were diagnosed at a late stage 1.
The charity is aiming to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and the importance of attending screening appointments during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout October.
Diagnosing breast cancer at an early stage means there may be more treatment options available, and the chances of a full recovery are much greater. 99% of patients with stage 1 breast cancer survive for five years following diagnosis, but this drops to 55% for those with stage 3 breast cancer. Just 15% of those diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer will survive for five years following diagnosis. 2
The campaign is being backed by 51-year-old Jackie Barcroft, from Hull, who went to see her doctor early in 2015 after noticing a lump in her breast. She was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy and treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Jackie, who works as a café assistant within a garden centre, said: “It took a while for me to come to terms with the diagnosis – my head was spinning with all the ‘what if’ thoughts, but ultimately I knew that I had done all I could by going to see the doctor as soon as I noticed the lump.
“It’s not something which is easy to think about, knowing that if I hadn’t got myself checked and ignored the signs I could be telling a very different story today. Or not have been here to tell my story at all.
“I want to show people how important it is to be ‘breast aware’. Knowing what your breasts look and feel like, along with checking them regularly means it is so much easier to detect when something is wrong.”
In addition to promoting self-checking for symptoms of breast cancer, Yorkshire Cancer Research is encouraging women to attend screening appointments. Breast screening is currently available through the NHS for all women aged 50 to 70, and women are invited to attend appointments every three years. In Hull CCG, just 68% of women attend appointments when invited, compared to the England average of 71%. This means nearly a third of women living in the area are not taking part. 3
Lisa Trickett, Community Health Initiatives Manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “Jackie is a great example of somebody who listened to their body and went to see their GP with their concerns. Her cancer was found at an early stage and she was able to be successfully treated.
“As well as checking your breasts, it is vital that as many women as possible attend their screening appointments when invited. Screening can detect cancer before symptoms are noticeable, so it is incredibly important in finding the disease at an early stage.
“If any women have missed their screening appointment or they are above the upper age limit of 70, they can request an appointment from their local screening centre and we would urge them to do so.”
To read more of Jackie’s story, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk/blog/jackie/.
Symptoms of breast cancer include:
• A change in how your nipple looks
• A change in the size or shape of your breast
• A lump or area of thickened tissue in your breast
• A lump or swelling in your armpit
• A rash on or around your nipple
• Dimpling on the skin of your breast
• Discharge from your nipple
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.
Between screening tests talk to your doctor straight away if you notice any symptoms of breast cancer.
Get to know your breasts
This will make it easier to notice any changes in how they look or feel. A good time to check your breasts is when you are in the bath or shower. Look at your breasts and feel each breast and armpit, up towards your collarbone. Look with your arms down by your sides and with them up in the air.
Breast screening – mammograms
An x-ray test called a ‘mammogram’ is used for breast screening. This test can find breast cancers when they are too small to see or feel.
Mammograms are carried out at special clinics or mobile breast screening units by a female member of staff. Your breasts will be x-rayed one at a time. The mammogram will then be checked for any signs of cancer.
Who can be screened?
If you are aged 50 to 70 (or 47 to 73 in some areas) and are registered with a GP you should be sent an invitation for breast screening every three years.
If you are aged over 70, you will stop being automatically invited for screening. You can make an appointment by contacting your local screening unit – please visit www.nhs.uk/service-search.
If you think you may have missed a breast screening, or have not been invited, contact your local screening centre to make an appointment. Make sure your doctor has your current contact details.
It is important that you keep going for breast screening during the time it is offered.
- National General Practice Profiles https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/
- Parkin, Boyd & Walker (2011) British Journal of Cancer 105, S77-S81, https://www.nature.com/articles/bjc2011489.epdf
Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
- Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
- We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
- Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
- Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
- We aim to:
- Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
- Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
- Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
- Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
- Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
- For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.