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​Encouraging breast screening in Lewisham  

We're supporting a national drive to raise the awareness of breast cancer and improve screening rates in Lewisham during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for regular breast screening every three years under a national NHS programme. This can help detect the disease at an early stage when there is a better chance of successful treatment.

The latest NHS data shows take up rates in Lewisham sat at 69.3 per cent in 2018, compared to the national average of 74.9 per cent.

Local GP and Lewisham CCG Clinical Director, Dr Esther Appleby, said: "It's really important for all women to check their breasts regularly so that they know what is normal for them. There is a guide to show you how to do this, in a step-by-step way. If you notice any unusual symptoms, it's really important to see your GP."

These symptoms can include:

  • Lumps in the breast or under the arms.
  • Skin changes or dimpling.
  • Nipples turning in or starting to discharge spontaneously.
  • Persistent pain only on one side.

Dr Appleby added: "Although there may be a harmless explanation it's very important to get checked to ensure you don't need any further investigations to rule out cancer.

"But we can all reduce our risk of breast cancer by stopping smoking, not drinking too much alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight."

Women who consider that they are more at risk because of a family history can either speak to their GP or contact the Cancer Risk Assessment Clinic at Guy's directly.

The service is available for patients who live in or are registered with a GP in the boroughs of Lewisham, Bromley, Lambeth or Southwark.

There is much guidance available for women who are not sure how to self-examine effectively.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, run by the charity Breast Cancer Now, seeks to raise funds for Wear It Pink, which will go towards activities based around research to prevent breast cancer, efforts to stop people dying from it, and care for those that do have it.

Their goal is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and that everyone developing it today will receive the support they need to live well now. For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer or www.wearitpink.org

Black women have poorer breast cancer outcomes.  A free event, 'Let's Talk About…Black Women and Breast Cancer' takes place from 9am to 5pm on Saturday 26 October at Weston Education Centre, Brixton SE5 9RJ.

The event will raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, how to perform a self-examination and incorporate experiences of survivors, information about screening and how professionals can raise awareness in minority groups. Look here if you'd like to register and find out more information.