Innovative Breast Screening Service

An innovative breast screening service which offers peace-of-mind for women not covered by the NHS screening programme is being launched by BreastHealth UK at Spire Washington Hospital. It is one of the first in the country to offer a state-of-the-art digital infrared scanner which is particularly suited for younger women.

One in nine women in the UK will develop breast cancer and every year more than 44,000 new cases are diagnosed. Most of the new breast cancers arise in women with no prior family history of breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of survival and the less the personal trauma.

BreastHealth UK aims to make comprehensive, personalised breast screening services readily available to a wider age group not currently supported by the NHS screening programme. A unique addition to its range of services is Digital Infrared BreastScan (DIB) which offers safe and non-invasive technology to support breast cancer screening in younger women.

Mr David Browell, consultant surgeon for BreastHealth UK, Washington, explains that screening of breast tissue for the early detection of cancer has traditionally been done using mammography – a low-dose x-ray examination of the breast – but that this is not sensitive in younger women with denser breast tissue and not widely available, for women under 50:

“It is very exciting to be the first BreastHealthUK clinic to open outside of Cambridge and to offer the unique Digital Infrared BreastScan.

"The National breast screening programme has and continues to be an enormous success for women over 50 years old. Mammography however is less sensitive in women under 50 so any new technology that can be used in combination with it should improve our chances of detecting breast cancer at an earlier stage in these younger women”.

Following an initial breast health analysis, patients to the clinic are offered a personalised breast screening programme that may include mammography, clinical breast examination, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and DIB.

DIB is a non-contact technique that picks up ‘hot spots’ that may be caused by increased blood flow to cancerous tissue and has the potential to pick up tumours at an early stage. The technique is particularly suitable for women under 50 and complements other screening technologies.

A recent study of the technique at the Department of Surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital, in Cornell, New York, showed that DIB could be a useful tool in early diagnosis of breast cancer, particularly in younger women for whom mammography may be unsuitable.

BreastHealth UK was established following recognition that the breast screening options available to women under 50 with no family history of breast cancer are very limited.

Mr Troels Jordansen, Managing Director of BreastHealth UK, says:

“We want women to feel ‘looked after’ by our service and that they belong to a screening programme that can offer them the most up to date breast screening technology. The NHS offers a good breast screening service, but we were keen to focus on introducing new technologies with a special focus on younger women who are not currently eligible for NHS screening. We are already exploring new and innovative services that we hope to be able to add to our portfolio later this year.

"With modern state of the art facilities and conveniently located close to the A1, the Spire Hospital at Washington provides an ideal location to launch the first BreastHealth UK clinic outside of Cambridge, to serve the North East of England.”

The BreastHealth UK clinic opened to patients at the Spire Washington Hospital in Washington on 1st December 2008. For appointments please contact: 0800 085 6616. For further details women should visit the website:

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