Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK and even though it’s highly treatable when diagnosed early, sadly over 30 people still die from the illness every day. The earlier the cancer is detected the more successful the treatment is likely to be, which is why regular screening for breast cancer is so important. Even though signs of breast cancer can often be detected through self-examination, the purpose of screening is to find signs of cancer before any symptoms occur, meaning the cancer is detected far earlier.
Why breast cancer screening is so important
Early diagnosis is absolutely vital as more than 90% of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive for at least 5 years, compared to just 15% of women diagnosed when the cancer is at an advanced stage. The goal of screening is to detect cancer at the earliest stage and mammograms are the most accurate way of diagnosing early signs of breast cancer. Spotting symptoms, such as a lump in the breast, discharge, thickening breast tissue or changes to the nipple, is one way to detect cancer, but in many cases, breast cancer can be detected on a mammogram before any symptoms present themselves. It’s essential to note that regular breast self-examination is still important and this, combined with regular mammograms, are the most effective ways of spotting breast cancer early.
Advances in breast cancer screening technology are making spotting and diagnosing breast cancer much easier.
(Image: Pall Mall CEO, Stephanie Byrom and Hologic’s Kevin Owens with Selenia Dimensions 3D Mammography unit at Pall Mall Medical in Newton-le-Willows)
What are the advantages of the latest technology in mammograms?
At Pall Mall Medical, we use the latest Hologic Selenia® Dimensions® 3D Digital Mammography machine to provide the most accurate results for our patients. The advantages of a Hologic 3D Digital Mammography is that it gives lower levels of radiation without compromising on the accuracy and reliability of the results. The machine takes multiple images of the breasts from a number of different angles which allows consultants to see a high quality, layered image of the breast, making it easier for them to spot very early signs of cancer.
The accuracy of the machine means that it can help avoid unnecessary biopsies which means you will receive reliable results quickly and often without the need for a needle biopsy or surgical biopsy. Results are available within 7 days and are reviewed by two radiologists.
What happens during a mammogram?
A mammogram involves using an X-ray machine to take an image of the breast tissue to detect signs of cancer. A radiographer or specialist nurse will help you position your breasts between two flat plates – the bottom plate is an X-ray and the adjustable top plate firmly holds the breast in place during the screening. The test shouldn’t be painful but can feel uncomfortable to some women.
When can I have a mammogram?
Mammograms are available on the NHS and women between the ages of 50 and 70 can have a mammogram every three years. However, if you are younger than this, would like a mammogram more frequently, or if you have a family history of breast cancer then you may want to get tested sooner. Private breast cancer screening enables you to have a mammogram when you want one, rather than waiting for an appointment with the NHS. At Pall Mall Medical, our breast cancer experts recommend women over 40 are screened every two years and every year if there is a high risk of breast cancer in the family.
You can book a private mammogram with Pall Mall Medical at our specialist diagnostic centre in Newton-le-Willows and have the peace of mind that the screening will be highly accurate and performed by leading professionals. For more information on the breast screening services available at Pall Mall Medical visit our Private Breast Cancer Screening page or contact us to make an appointment.
For further information on breast screening, check out the following articles:
Breasts and Their Bobbly Bits, including a guide to self-examination