Improved screening for breast cancer across the North West

1201 breast cancer
More women across the North West will be able to be screened for breast cancer Credit: PA

A number of new breast cancer screening units are set to open across the North West to help speed up diagnosis and help save lives.

The units will be directed to where they are most needed increasing capacity to make sure people can get the care they need when they need it.

There will also be upgrades to ultrasound and X-rays to better detect cancer using new and improved software.

It's part of a £10 million pledge by the Government to improve breast cancer services.

Here's what the changes will be across the north west.

  • Royal Bolton Hospital will get a new static unit

  • Thomas Linacre Centre in Wigan will get a new static unit

  • Wythenshawe Hospital will get a new static unit

  • The Royal Liverpool Hospital will get upgrade to its 3D X-Ray mammography system

  • Clatterbridge Hospital on the Wirral will also get upgrade to current system

  • Warrington Hospital will get a new static unit, a mobile unit and upgrades to technology

  • Burnley General will get upgrade to radiography system

  • Macclesfield District General will get a new mobile screening unit

  • Royal Lancaster Infirmary will get upgrades to its mammography system.

These new units and service upgrades will allow more women to be screened earlier improving outcomes for patients.

Screening will be focused at sites where it is most needed, tackling health disparities and improving diagnosis rates in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.

The Government said this investment will also help deliver a more accessible NHS where patients receive care close to home.

The Government has pledged to speed up breast cancer diagnosis Credit: PA (stock image)

Minister of State for Health Helen Whately said: "Catching cancer early saves lives.

"Last year 100,000 people were diagnosed with cancer at stages one and two.

"This is the highest proportion on record but we want to do better still.

"Most people will get the reassurance of an all-clear but for those who are diagnosed, catching their cancer early is the best thing we can do - and gets them on the path to early treatment too."

The mobile units will be used flexibly to target areas which will most benefit from increased opportunities for screening and the static units will be placed in areas to improve accessibility, uptake and coverage.

Those areas with existing units will also benefit from upgrades to improve screening by using the latest technology, ensuring the best possible care for patients.

The funding is now in place for NHS trusts to spend within the 2022/23 financial year and the timing for delivery of units will be individual to each trust.

The commitment to provide additional breast screening units was made in the Women’s Health Strategy published in July 2022 which is designed to improve equality of healthcare.

The government has also committed to improving diagnosis, treatment and survival rates as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

By 2028, the government has committed to 75% of people with cancer being diagnosed at stages 1 and 2, up from 55% and for 55,000 more people each year to survive their cancer for at least five years after diagnosis.

This mammogram shows a healthy breast Credit: PA (stock image)

Ciarán Norris from Macmillan Cancer Support said: "We welcome any intervention that helps to speed up diagnosis and improve access to cancer screening services, particularly in areas where they are most needed, as we know the earlier someone is diagnosed the better their outcome is likely to be. "Alongside this, we also look forward to working with the government on steps to grow and sustain the cancer workforce, to ensure our cancer services can provide timely treatment and care for everyone living with cancer, both now and in the future."

Alongside this, Breast Screening Offices (BSO) are running extra screening sessions to clear any remaining mammogram backlog, although a large number of services have recovered.

The ‘NHS National Demand and Capacity Tool’ and NHS national round length planning tool have been developed and implemented to deliver better support and intervention so the best possible care can be given to patients.

Currently the NHS Breast Screening Programme offers all women in England between the ages of 50 and their 71st birthday the opportunity to be screened every three years for breast cancer.

If you are aged 71 or over, you are automatically invited for breast screening, but do have the right to free screening every 3 years if you ask.

Visit NHS.UK to look up details of your local unit.