Breast screening is a method of detecting breast cancer or pre-cancerous changes at an early stage, so that they can be treated more effectively. Mr Simon Pain, Consultant Surgeon specialising in breast surgery talks to Spire Norwich Hospital.
How common is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the UK, with more than 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Despite the fact that the number of breast cancers are increasing, the positive news is that deaths due to breast cancer are falling sharply. There are several different factors accounting for this fall, including a range of improved treatments. Earlier detection of the cancer is also an important change. Although the risk of breast cancer increases with age, about 1 in 7 cancers are identified in women under the age of 50.
What does the Breast Screening Clinic involve?
The Breast Screening Clinic at Spire Norwich Hospital has been specially designed to provide a high-quality consultant-led service to women in the 40-50 age group. At the initial assessment you will receive:
- a private consultation with an experienced consultant breast surgeon
- a clinical breast examination
- a mammogram
- information about breast cancer risk factors and family history
- genetic risk calculation - details taken about your family history
- advice regarding on-going 'breast awareness'
- a personal plan for on-going screening - at intervals depending on your risk group
What is a mammogram?
'A mammogram involves taking X-ray images of the breast whilst they are being gently compressed. It can cause mild discomfort in some women. If abnormalities are detected on a mammogram, further tests are often performed'.
How important is a family history of breast cancer?
'As breast cancer is so common, it is not unusual to have a relative who has been affected. However, only quite a small proportion of cancers are thought to be due to inherited risk - less than 1 in 10 cancers are due to specific breast cancer genes. The risk of having one of these genes in the family depends on the number of relatives affected, the closeness of these relatives, and the age at which they developed their cancer. Advanced computer programmes are now available which can estimate an individual's risk of carrying one of these genes'.
How will I find out my results?
'You will be contacted by letter soon after your consultation with your results. If an abnormality is detected, you will need to undergo further investigations. This could include further mammographic views, ultrasound examination of the breast and needle biopsy. All mammograms will be reported by specialist Consultant Breast Radiologists who also work in the NHS Breast Screening Programme'.
The private breast screening service is open to all, please contact our customer service advisors on 01603 255614 or complete our online enquiry form for further information.