Breast cancer awareness month: Newham screening rate below national average as doctors urge action

Macmillan cancer support experts will be at Barking Road's Rathbone Market to offer help between 9am

Macmillan cancer support experts will be at Barking Road's Rathbone Market to offer help between 9am and 5pm on Thursday, October 10. Picture: Joe D Miles/Macmillan. - Credit: Macmillan

Women in Newham are urged to be screened for breast cancer as rates lag behind the rest of the country.

Only six in 10 women act on the invitation for those aged between 50 and 70 to have a screening. The national average is more than seven in 10. The NHS invites women that age across the country to get checked every three years to help detect the disease.

By doing that, it increases the chances of survival. The NHS and Macmillan are hoping October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month - will help get the word out.

More than 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, according to the NHS, and around one in eight UK women will develop the disease in their lifetimes. Four out of five cases are in women over 50.

Dr Helen Stedeford is a GP and cancer clinical lead for Newham's clinical commissioning group. She said: "[It's] a good time to remind everyone to see their GP if they notice breast symptoms, such as a persistent lump or skin changes. Most of the time, these don't have a serious cause but seeing a doctor is the best way to get an accurate and timely diagnosis, meaning a better chance of cure if it is cancer."

The symptoms of breast cancer include a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit, changes in the shape or size of the breast and a change in skin texture.

For their part, Macmillan cancer support will be at Canning Town's Rathbone Market on Thursday, October 10 from 9am to 5pm to offer free help and advice.

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Macmillan cancer information specialist Wendy Marchant said: "As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we'll be reminding women and men how they can check themselves for signs of the UK's most common cancer, which is diagnosed in over 5,000 people in London each year.

"If you have just been diagnosed and are looking for more practical information about treatments and side effects, or are trying to cope as cancer puts a strain on your health, relationships or work life, we're right there to listen without judgement and point you in the right direction for help."