Inspire Inclusion on International Women’s Day with 4ways Breast Radiology Clinical Lead, Dr Nina Breunung-Joshi Gabrielle March 8, 2024
International Women's Day with 4ways Breast Radiology Clinical Lead, Dr Nina Breunung-Joshi

International Women's Day with 4ways Breast Radiology Clinical Lead, Dr Nina Breunung-Joshi

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. A recent article published on NHS England found that over a third of women are not taking up potentially lifesaving offer to attend breast screening appointments. 

As part of 4ways celebrating International Women’s Day, we have our Breast Radiology Clinical Lead, Dr Nina Breunung-Joshi educate us on the importance of breast health to overcome some of the barriers to early cancer detection and treatment. 

The progression of breast screening  

In the UK, since the 1980s, women between their 50th and 70th birthday are invited to attend breast cancer screening every 3 years. These screenings are mainly carried out at mobile mammography units which move to a range of convenient locations in local communities, such as supermarket car parks. If you are unable to make the appointment, have not received an expected appointment, or have missed an appointment, please contact your local screening service to reschedule or attend another mobile or fixed permanent screening site and additional support can be arrange if needed.   

Since the introduction of the UK breast screening programme, mortality of breast cancer has decreased by 45% due to early detection and advancement in treatment. Timely detection means less aggressive treatment is required with 85% of breast cancer patients living longer than 10 years after being diagnosed with a better quality of life. One of the biggest risk factors for breast cancer is increasing age and it’s important to know, you can self-refer after the age of 70 years for a screening mammogram. However, women of all ages should be breast aware and seek help if they are concerned despite breast screening programmes.  

Fear of the unknown 

Within the last 23 years breast cancer has increased by 24% and is now the most common cancer amongst females in the UK with a 1 in 7 overall lifetime risk. While this statistic may seem high, it’s important to know that 23% of breast cancer cases are preventable through adjustments of lifestyle such as weight management, reducing alcohol intake and breast awareness. Personal experience as well as a family history of breast cancer may change your feeling towards breast screening, however it is important to share these experiences or concerns and seek medical advice.  

For some having a mammogram may cause some discomfort, however, trained female screening radiographers will work with you to ensure you have the best screening experience possible whilst ensuring the images taken are of high quality to help detecting any abnormal changes in the breasts early. After your mammogram you should get a letter within 2 weeks, explaining whether your mammograms were normal or whether you need to attend for an appointment to have some further images taken. Any additional tests that may be required will be explained to you during the visit at the screening centre, where you will be seen by a range of dedicated breast imaging staff to guide you through the journey on the day. 

Out of 100 women who attend their mammogram appointment, 4 will require further tests, with 1 woman out of 100 being diagnosed with a breast cancer, enabling her to start her treatment journey. 

When attending your mammogram appointment, you can bring support a chaperone as well as ask for extra assistance and screening information. You are also able to request your letters are available in a format which may best suit you such as in your native language and larger print.   

The impact of over investigation, and at times treatment, on mental and physical health should not be forgotten and poses a difficult balance to strike for all screening programmes, which is why any screening service in the NHS is monitored and reviewed at a national level to ensure the balance is right.  

Breaking the stigma  

It’s important to perform regular “TLC – Touch Look Check of your breasts alongside attending your breast screening appointments to detect any signs of breast cancer and enable earlier intervention. Knowing your breasts and the changes they undergo during menstrual cycles, hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause as well as with age is very important. Being open around the topic of breast examination, awareness, screening and personal experiences with friends and family aids community education and can help break the barriers around talking about these often very personal topics. In addition, breast cancer can occur in men and within the LGBTQIA+ community, which should not be forgotten.  

Breast screening uptake in the UK ranges between 50-70% with regional as well as socio-economic variation with breast cancer mortality higher for females living in the most deprived areas. Supporting women and the wider community to overcome barriers in access to healthcare and breast screening is an ongoing and essential task, to ensure everyone in the UK receives the right care at the right time without any exclusions! 

4ways Healthcare is a leading healthcare solutions provider dedicated to delivering excellence in radiology reporting, clinical support, and patient care. With a commitment to innovation, quality, and patient-centric care, we empower healthcare providers with the tools and services needed to enhance the diagnostic process and improve patient outcomes.

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4ways Healthcare has been providing teleradiology services since 2005 and has an 18-year track-record of innovative solutions with the aim of improving patient outcomes. Now serving over 89 NHS trusts and a growing number of private providers, 4ways implements a blend of highly innovative technology, workflows, experienced teams, and the clinical expertise of over 400 UK based GMC registered Consultant Radiologists.

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