Wednesday, 31 October 2012

I am supporting the Breast Cancer Campaign ...

I am supporting the Breast Cancer Campaign, aiming to raise awareness into the matter of breast cancer screening. The Breast Cancer Action Month is reaching a close and I also want to let you know about a recent survey conducted by ICM for Breast Cancer Campaign on breast cancer awareness and screening related issues:

Independent Breast Screening Review

Breast Cancer Campaign supported the establishment of the Independent Breast Screening Review, which was commissioned in October 2011 by the Department of Health and Cancer Research UK to assess the available evidence of the benefits and harms of the breast screening programme. The results of the review have been published in the Lancet today and an abstract of this is available here:

The review found that the NHS Breast Screening programmes can save lives, preventing 1300 deaths from breast cancer in the UK every year. For every 180 women who attend screening in the UK it is estimated that one life is saved. However, screening also identifies breast cancers that are genuine cancers but, if left untreated, would have grown so slowly that they would not have caused harm to people in their lifetime. The review estimates that this over-diagnosis could be in the region of 4,000 cancers out of a total of almost 16,000 cancers detected by the UK screening programmes every year. However, as it is not possible to know which cancers are life-threatening and which are not, almost all women diagnosed through screening are treated.

The overall conclusion of the review was that the NHS Breast Screening Programmes offer significant benefits and should continue, which means that women aged between 50-70 will continue to be invited for breast screening every three years in the UK. Some women in England are invited from 47 and up to 73 too as part of a pilot extension of this programme.

Breast Cancer Campaign along with Breast Cancer Care and Breakthrough Breast Cancer have produced a joint response on the outcome of the review and continue to encourage women to attend their screening appointments. The information that will be provided for women when they attend screening is going to be reviewed and we support this process. We believe it is important that when women are invited for their screening appointments they have access to clear and balanced information on the pros and cons of screening. Breast Cancer Campaign is part of the group looking at the review of the screening literature and will input into the group with that aim in mind.

Breast Cancer Campaign-commissioned research into breast cancer awareness and screening

In preparation for the outcome of the review and to ensure that they know what women think about screening, in the past couple of months Breast Cancer Campaign have consulted with women diagnosed with breast cancer and surveyed women across England on their views of screening. They have found considerable support at that point for the screening programme and overwhelmingly that women would want to know if they have any form of breast cancer. Whether the information from today has an impact on this will be something that will have to be continued, to remain monitored to ensure that they are able to put forward the views and experiences of women with breast cancer and women across the country.

In terms of the survey itself, ICM interviewed over 2000 women in September 2012 on their awareness of breast cancer and their views on screening. As part of this survey women were asked whether they would want to know if they had breast cancer and the research revealed that an overwhelming 92 per cent of women would want to know if they had any type of breast cancer, including DCIS – a non-invasive breast cancer.

The research also revealed some interesting statistics about levels of breast cancer awareness, opinions on the breast screening programme and the extent to which women are afraid of getting the disease. We have this information broken down by regions and if you would like more information about the ICM research in general or specifically about its findings in your local region then please do get in contact. We would also be happy to provide you with the latest statistics for screening uptake in your area or to discuss the implications of the Independent Breast Screening Review in more detail.

With October almost at an end, they are now in the final days of Breast Cancer Action Month. To encourage women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer they have developed a breast cancer awareness quiz and they would be delighted if you would be interested in promoting the quiz to your constituents.