Breast screening service returns to Southend Hospital

As hospitals start to look at ways of restarting their normal services, breast screening is set to make a return at Southend Hospital on Monday June 29.

Although high risk patients were still being screened at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, normal breast screening had been paused so radiographers at the hospital could support critical inpatient services.

But now, normal services are beginning to slowly resume and patients are being welcomed back.

The breast screening unit, based in the Nightingale Centre, have started sending invitations and reminders again to people eligible for screening.

This will start initially with invitations and reminders for people who were cancelled due to the pandemic, then moving to those who are overdue a scan.

Clare Rogers, programme manager for South Essex Breast Screening for Mid and South Essex University Foundation Trust, of which Southend Hospital is a part, said: “It’s important to remember that screening is for healthy people who have no symptoms at all.

“The aim of this service is to detect breast cancer at an early stage, often before any symptoms have been noted, so that treatment may therefore be simpler, more effective and gives a better chance of recovery.”

It is estimated that such screening saves about one life from breast cancer for every 200 women who are screened, which adds up to around 1,300 lives saved from breast cancer each year in the UK.

Approximately one in eight women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, one of those who was is Karen Scott, 59, from Billericay.

At her first screening in 2012, everything was clear, and she didn’t need to return in 2015.

Karen said: “I had no symptoms or reason to think anything abnormal would show but was called back two weeks later for another mammogram and biopsy. The mammogram showed a 6cm lump.

“I had a mastectomy at Broomfield, which was a really positive experience and everyone involved was very helpful and supportive. I now have an annual mammogram and my advice to anyone unsure of going to their screening is make time for it. I did and it potentially saved my life.”

It is now hoped that mobile breast screening will see a return to Grays, Southend and Canvey Island sometime in late July.

Once screening programmes are back up and running, people should start receiving invitations again. But it may take longer than usual before you are invited.

Clare said: “It may take longer for patients to receive their invitation for breast screening due to the number of patients we need to catch up on, but if anyone is worried that they may have any breast cancer symptoms they should not wait and, contact their GP without delay.”

Mick Ferris

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