Helm News: Breast Cancer Awareness

Over the past few months there have been a number of cases where examinations and even surgery under the care of the NHS have been called in to question:-

  • Stafford Hospital breast cancer services criticised (BBC news 03/09/12)
  • Incidences where those due a test have not attended their appointment
  • Breast screening urged after 15,000 Devon women miss tests (BBC news 28/08/12)

Whilst the NHS undoubtedly offers a comprehensive service there clearly seems to be a gap between the perception and practice of care. Early diagnosis is key in assessing and treating any form of cancer and no more so than in the case of breast cancer.
In 2009, 48,417 women and 371 men in the UK were diagnosed with breast cancer (Cancer Research UK), but how many went undiagnosed?

In 2007 over 2.5million women were invited for screening, yet 20% of those invited did not attend a screening (Cancer Research UK).

What more can be done?

Whilst screening is essential in assessing an individual’s risk and will clearly help diagnose a current issue, awareness and education are key components in understanding and identifying the risk.

Employers have the potential to create an increased awareness by introducing, as part of an overall wellness programme, an employer sponsored or voluntary screening programme. In addition to a traditional examination a number of alternative options are now available, including assessing an individual’s risk, tuition in how to be breast aware and how to self examine, a personalised breast screening programme and a complete clinical breast examination.

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