Breast cancer screenings drop by 50% in Suffolk as thousands not attending 'life-saving' appointments

Radiographers Sally Leggett and Laura Lloyd at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's mobile breast screening unit Credit: West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Thousands of women in Suffolk and parts of Norfolk are missing potentially life-saving breast cancer screenings after a 50% drop in the numbers attending appointments.

The West Suffolk Foundation Trust said 13,000 women were getting checked before the pandemic.

Since then, the Trust said two thirds of women in west Suffolk and south west Norfolk not responding to letters offering them an appointment.

The routine health screening is is offered to women aged 50 to 71.

The routine health screening, which is offered to women aged 50 to 71, was put on hold due to Covid-19, but restarted in July.

“We invite women in the target age group to a screening once every three years", Sam continued.

“One in eight women are affected by breast cancer, and early detection makes a massive difference in providing effective treatment.

“We know people may be worried about Covid-19 but we have careful procedures in place to ensure the screening is as safe as possible, and it is really important that we continue to detect early breast cancer.”

The Trust says it is sending invitations to women in the Bury St Edmunds, Thetford, and Sudbury areas.

Its screening service operates across both counties, with tests offered locally using mobile screening centres or at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

More than three-quarters of people (76%) survive breast cancer for a decade or more after their diagnosis, CRUK figures show. Credit: PA
  • Breast cancer: What are the symptoms? (credit:NHS)

The first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.

Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it is always best to have them checked by a doctor.

Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer, but there are a number of other symptoms.

The NHS website advises people to see a GP if they notice any of these symptoms:

  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts;

  • Discharge from either nipple, which may be streaked with blood;

  • A lump or swelling in either armpit;

  • Dimpling on the skin of the breasts;

  • A rash on or around the nipple;

  • A change in the appearance of the nipple, such as becoming sunken into the breast.