Women in their 40s urged to go for mammogram to increase chances of early cancer detection

Women in their 40s are being called to go for their mammogram, so that more cases of breast cancer can be detected earlier.

Action Cancer uses advanced 3D technology to create more accurate images which can reveal tumors as small as a grain of rice.

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaches, the charity hopes to see more younger women get checked.

Tracy McCausland, a mum of two from Lisburn, had her breast cancer detected by the charity.

Having had her first mammogram aged 47, a second scan two years later revealed an abnormality.

In March, she had a single mastectomy and is now cancer free.

"The actual process of having the mammogram is really easy, I know sometimes people worry about it and they think it will be uncomfortable or sore - it is not.

"It is maybe not something you'd line up for every day, but it is painless.

"It turned out that the 3D technology they use in scans here, which isn't used in the NHS or anywhere else, picked up a very small anomaly.

"I kind of see myself as the cautionary tale, I didn't know there was anything wrong, I wouldn't have known for a long time down the line that there was anything there at all - there is no way that self-examination would have detected what was going on.

"If you are between the ages of 40 and 49, Action Cancer provide this service in Northern Ireland which is not offered anywhere else in the UK or Ireland.

"It is imperative looking at the likes of my story - early detection really, really saved my life."

Jacqueline McKee, from Finaghy, has gone for scans every two years since she turned 40.

At 49, she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.

She believes going for regular scans saved her life.

"Everything is about finding it early - the earlier you find any cancer, the more treatable it is.

"I have friends and family members who say they'd rather not know.

"I don't understand that because the earlier you know, the more treatable it is - you're not going to die, you're going to get all the help and support you need."

Action Cancer screens 8,000 women for breast cancer every year.

Around 90% of those women are aged between 40 and 49.

The charity screens women using 3D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT).

It is currently the only place in the UK and Ireland using this technology for screening.

Joanna Currie, a Consultant Radiographer who heads up the breast screening service for women in their 40s and over the age of 70 at Action Cancer, said: “We're finding things the size of a grain of rice, a good while before you'd know if you have symptoms.

"You want to find things long before you have a problem, not when you've felt a lump.

"Because cancer in younger women tends to be more aggressive, and therefore really important to find early.

"My friends in their 40s will all say they're far too busy, and I challenge them on that because I think we need to encourage women to prioritize their own health and to look after themselves."

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