Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Thousands of Tees Women Putting Their Lives at Risk by Missing Cancer Screenings; Now Husband of Victim Wants More to Have Test

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Thousands of Tees Women Putting Their Lives at Risk by Missing Cancer Screenings; Now Husband of Victim Wants More to Have Test

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH JUDD

TOO many Teesside women are turning down potentially life-saving breast screening procedures over unfounded fears of pain or embarrassment.

That was the claim of Madeleine Johnson, acting public health specialist for NHS Tees, after just 72% of eligible women in Middlesbrough took up their breast screening appointment last year.

The North Tees breast screening service, which has patients from the four Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar & Cleveland and Hartlepool, is smashing the national target of attracting 70% of women for the routine checks, boasting an overall figure of 77%.

However, even with 34,202 attending North Tees out of the 44,313 who were invited last year, almost a quarter declined (23%).

Madeleine believes local PCTs could do better, potentially saving even more lives.

She said: "We've got a reasonable uptake in our area. When you look at the figures as an average it is more than 70%, which is okay.

"But we are aiming for an uptake of 80% and we are not achieving 80% for any area in Teesside.

"There are a lot of myths around breast and cervical screening appointments being uncomfortable, unpleasant and embarrassing. That needs to be debunked."

The screening of 34,202 women last year compares with just 23,742 10 years ago, when just 150 cases of breast cancer were detected in Teesside. Last year, 251 cases were detected.

The North Tees programme, which currently offers screening services to women aged 50 to 70, is to be extended to women aged 47 to 73 in the hope more cases can be detected as early as possible.

Lee Tate, who married his beautiful wife Sam in November - a month before she lost her battle with breast cancer at just 36 - urged women to put their minds at rest by attending screening appointments.

He said: "A lot of people don't want to go because they are worried what they will find out.

"Every time Sam had a lump she never wanted to go and get it checked because you don't want to get the news it has come back. …

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