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New breast screening figures prompt fresh uptake appeal

THOUSANDS of women are being urged to attend NHS breast screening appointments as new figures show that, despite a slight increase in uptake in the last year, over a ⅓ of women still did not take up the potentially lifesaving offer.

In 2022-23, a total of 1.93 million women aged:- 50 to 70 (64.6%) attended screening appointments (within 6 months of invitation) out of the 2.98 million invited to book a check up; an increase in uptake on:- 2021 to 2022 (62.3%).

However 35.4% of women did not attend their appointments following an invitation, increasing to:- 46.3% of women who were being invited for the 1st time.

The screening programme led to cancers being detected in 18,942 women across England in:- 2022 to 2023, which otherwise may not have been diagnosed and treated until a later stage.

NHS England is calling for women to put their health at the top of their to do list and come forward for breast screening when invited. The call comes following a major £70m Government investment in the Digital Transformation of Screening initiative to modernise screening services over the next 3 years.

The breast screening service will be 1 of the 1st to benefit, with an ambition to provide more tailored communications and more booking options for women, including online and call centre booking. This will make it easier than ever before for women to book and manage their appointments.

Published by NHS England, the NHS Breast Screening Programme, England - 2022 to 2023 Report also found that uptake was highest in the South East at 68.0% and lowest in London at 55.4%.

Dr Louise Wilkinson, Consultant Radiologist and National Specialist Advisor for Breast Screening at NHS England, said:- "Around 1 in 7 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, and detecting it at an early stage helps give people the best chance of successful treatment. Today's figures show that 18,942 women were diagnosed and able to seek treatment because they attended breast screening check ups in 2023. We know that lives are saved when cancers are caught early. I know life gets busy, but I would urge anyone who has received a breast screening invitation; even if you received the invite weeks or months ago; to put your health at the top of your to do list and book an appointment at your local screening service or mobile unit. It could save your life."

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said:- "It is vital that women come forward for breast screening when invited, as early cancer diagnosis can make all the difference. We're making it as easy as possible to attend appointments and screening rates are rising, but there are still too many women missing out so I urge everyone receiving that text invite or that letter to book a check up; it could be lifesaving."

A woman's risk of getting breast cancer goes up as they get older, with around 4 out of 5 breast cancers found in women over 50 years old.

Deborah Tomalin is the Director of Screening at NHS England. Now aged 60, she 1st discovered she had breast cancer after her second routine mammogram at age 53. She was diagnosed with early stage cancer, underwent a mastectomy and lymph node removal, and was given longer term oral medication as the cancer was a type that was found to be oestrogen dependent. She is thankfully now all well. She encourages anyone who is invited to come forward for their breast screening.

Deborah said:- "Nobody wants to hear they have breast cancer. It turns your world upside down and is such a worrying time for you and your family. But I was lucky that my cancer was caught early (by screening) and so the outlook has been bright for me. I completely understand going for breast screening can feel daunting; some people might worry that it will be painful or be embarrassed to take your clothes off, but I can reassure you that the actual mammogram takes just a few minutes and any discomfort does not last long and the staff all look after you so well. I encourage anyone who has been invited to come forward for screening as it can find cancer at an early stage and it really can save your life."

Under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, eligible women will usually receive their 1st routine invitation for breast cancer screening between the ages of:- 50 and 53 and will normally be invited every 3 years until their 71st birthday.

Kathryn Cowley was diagnosed with breast cancer after going to Chesterfield Royal Hospital for a routine mammogram in July 2022. After the mammogram detected an abnormality, she underwent further investigations which showed she had breast cancer. Kathryn, now 58, said:- "I was shocked but the consultant went through each step and put me at ease, he explained the type of breast cancer, including the size of the tumour and the treatment options."

She underwent surgery in October 2022, followed by radiotherapy in December 2022. "My breast cancer journey has a positive outcome and it is very lucky that I attended my regular breast screening. I have had now had my 1 year follow up mammogram and I was very relieved that this was normal. Attending routine screening is vital; I was fortunate that I attended my appointment and did not put it off. My mammogram detected my cancer before it could be felt, which was a game changer. If I had missed my screening, then my life could have followed a different path with a very different ending." explained Kathryn.

NHS England is also asking women of all ages to be aware of their breast health and to know how to check themselves for cancer symptoms. Being:- 'breast aware' means getting to know how your breasts look and feel at different times and telling your doctor straight away if you notice any unusual changes.

It takes only a few minutes to perform and can help detect breast cancers at an earlier stage.

It is important that women continue to look at and check their breasts regularly, even if they have had a recent mammogram. Anyone who has noticed any abnormal changes should contact their GP as soon as possible.

Women are encouraged to use the:- 'TLC' method for checking their breasts and can visit Breast Cancer Now for more information:-

  • TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything new or unusual?

  • LOOK for changes. Does anything look different?

  • CHECK any new or unusual changes with your GP.

More information on NHS breast screening checks is available at:- NHS.UK.

53% of Brits don't realise being on maternity leave can lower insurance!

PREGNANCY is a journey filled with anticipation and adjustments, and for many, it includes continuing to navigate the roads. If you're expecting and wondering how pregnancy might affect your driving and car insurance in the UK, you're in the right place. James Granton, insurance specialists from Zego Insurance aims to guide you through the essential information about driving while pregnant, focusing on safety, insurance implications, and the pote ntial legal nuances you should be aware of.

Safety First - Tips for Driving While Pregnant... Before delving into the insurance aspect, it's crucial to prioritise your and your baby's safety. Here are some practical tips for driving while pregnant:-

  • Adjust Your Seat... Ensure your seat is positioned to provide both comfort and control. Your abdomen should be a safe distance from the steering wheel, and you should be able to reach the pedals comfortably.

  • Seat Belt is a Must... Wear your seat belt correctly. The lap belt should sit under your belly, low and snug on your hip bones, while the shoulder belt should rest between your breasts and off to the side of your belly.

  • Take Regular Breaks... Long drives can be particularly taxing. Plan for frequent breaks to stretch and walk around.

  • Stay Hydrated and Nourished... Keep water and healthy snacks in your car, especially for longer journeys.

  • Limit Stressful Situations... If possible, avoid rush hour or challenging driving conditions that might increase your stress levels.

  • Understanding Car Insurance While Pregnant in the UK... Your pregnancy should not directly impact your car insurance premiums or validity. However, it's essential to understand the subtle nuances that might indirectly affect your coverage.

  • Notification: Is it Necessary? Most insurers in the UK do not require you to notify them about your pregnancy. Pregnancy is a natural condition, not a medical condition that typically warrants disclosure. However, if your pregnancy leads to medical complications or conditions that your doctor says may affect your driving, you must inform your insurer and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

  • Potential Complications and Disclosure... If you experience pregnancy related complications such as geStational diabetes or preeclampsia, and these conditions impair your ability to drive, failing to disclose this information might invalidate your insurance. In the event of an accident, if the insurer finds that such a condition contributed to the incident and was not disclosed, they may not cover the claim.

  • Maternity Leave and Car Usage... If you go on maternity leave and your car usage significantly changes (eg:- you're no longer commuting to work), you might want to inform your insurer. This change could potentially reduce your premiums, as insurers often consider the car's usage when assessing risk.

  • Legal Implications and Potential Fines... While there are no specific laws in the UK that prohibit pregnant women from driving, the usual road safety rules apply. However, certain scenarios related to pregnancy and driving can lead to fines or legal issues:

  • Driving Against Medical Advice... If your Doctor advises you not to drive due to pregnancy related conditions and you choose to ignore this advice, you could be fined or face legal action if you're involved in an accident.

  • Incorrect Use of Seat Belt... Failing to wear a seat belt correctly is not only unsafe, but can also result in a fine. Ensure your seat belt is adjusted to accommodate your pregnancy.

James Granton, from Zego Van and Car Insurance, says:- "In conclusion, while pregnancy should not significantly alter your car insurance or your ability to drive, it introduces factors that are important to consider. Prioritise safety, understand the nuances of your insurance policy, and ensure you're aware of the potential legal implications. By taking these steps, you can enjoy a smooth and safe journey throughout your pregnancy. Remember, when in doubt, consult with your insurer or seek legal advice to navigate the roads and insurance policies confidently."

What are your thoughts on this? Please do let us know.... Email our Newsroom at:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com or send us a message on:- Mastodon, Facebook, or Twitter.

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