Cat and radiographer Rachel Tilburn
Cat and radiographer Rachel Tilburn


Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith is deeply concerned that 60% of women invited for life saving breast screening in Fleetwood, have so far failed to make an appointment – just weeks before the mobile unit is due to be moved.

Ms Smith drove the campaign to have the unit returned to the town after it was re-sited in Lytham – however, so far only 40% of those sent screening invites have taken up the offer.

“Regular breast screening is one of the best ways to spot a cancer that is too small to feel or see – and this painless and quick procedure saves around 1,300 lives each year in the UK,” explained Ms Smith.

“Finding cancer early can make it more likely that treatment will be successful, less likely you’ll need to have a breast removed and more likely you’ll be cured.”

The Breast Screening mobile van is due to leave the Fleetwood area at the end of May. Women who have been invited but have not yet responded still have time to book an appointment for available dates in May, with May 24 the last screening day in Fleetwood before the van is moved. After this date, women will have to travel to other sites for testing.

“It’s so important for women to use this life saving resource before we lose it,” said Ms Smith. “We ran a very effective community campaign to get the unit brought back to the town but if the take-up is low, decision makers will obviously send the unit to where demand is higher.”

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. About 12,000 women in the UK die of breast cancer every year. Survival from the disease has been improving over time, and now about 3 out of 4 women diagnosed with breast cancer are alive 10 years later. The risk of getting breast cancer goes up as we get older. About 4 out of 5 breast cancers are found in women over 50 years old and most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.

“Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow in an uncontrolled way and build up to form a lump. As the cancer grows, cells can spread to other parts of the body and this can be life-threatening,” said Ms Smith.  It’s so important that all women aged 50 and up to their 71st birthday have their breasts checked every 3 years when invited by the health authority.”

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