'Dramatic' drop in number of women going for breast cancer screenings at Plymouth service

Around 30% of people invited to screening in the area are not attending. Credit: PA Images

The number of women going for breast cancer screening appointments in Plymouth has dropped dramatically, a charity has warned.

Around 30% of people invited in the area are not attending, according to The Primrose Foundation, a breast care charity based in Derriford Hospital.

On average, the local service diagnoses 400 cancers every year. Many of them are detected at screening appointments at Plymouth Guildhall or the mobile screening van.

In response, the charity has started a three-year campaign to boost the money it raises for local NHS breast services and to increase awareness of the importance of breast care.

The Primrose Foundation has raised millions of pounds since it was launched in 1995. Its aim to begin with was to help fund a one stop breast care clinic at Derriford Hospital, which was achieved in 2001.

The charity says that if just 10% of the 25,000-plus people who use the breast care service at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust annually donated the cost of one bra each year, it would raise tens of thousands of pounds.

Madeleine Matthews, Fundraising Coordinator for The Primrose Foundation, says the team wants to encourage more people to come forward for their screening.

“This is a unique campaign over three years, and it could not be better timed, with the recent drop in people attending screening - even though we know how vital it is in providing early detection and diagnosis.

"The main aim therefore is to raise breast awareness and to encourage people to attend their breast screening. 

"We want to encourage new support from patients and local businesses, so that we can raise even more money for breast care services in our area.”

Dr Karen Paisley, Consultant Radiologist at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and Director of Breast Screening, hopes the campaign will encourage more to come forward when they are called for their routine checks:

“This is a really exciting opportunity to raise breast awareness and promote our breast screening service, especially as the uptake for breast screening across West Devon and East Cornwall has unfortunately gone down to 70% according to recent annual figures.

‘’I am extremely grateful to The Primrose Foundation for their great work in supporting The Primrose Breast Care Centre, our staff and consequently our patients,” she added.