Breast cancer survivors wrongly told they should go for screening
BREAST cancer survivors have complained that screening letters are forcing them to relive the trauma of their battle.
Women who have had double mastectomies to remove the disease have said they are still receiving invitations for mammograms, even though they do not need to be screened.
Now charities are calling on the NHS to better link its IT systems in order to prevent the distress.
The NHS system automatically posts letters to British women between the ages of 50 and 70 who are registered to a GP to invite them for regular breast screenings.
According to NHS Digital, doctors are supposed to flag higher risk individuals and remove patients who do not need screening from the system using an application called Breast Screening Select. However, this does not always happen and women who have
Christmas on track
had a double mastectomy are still being given screening appointments.
Fiona Stevenson, 51, from Telford, finished treatment for breast cancer in 2015 when she had a necessary second mastectomy. She thought she had finished with the ordeal but was horrified when she received an invitation for a new mammogram earlier this year.
She said: “When I got the letter it was like ‘here we go again, how do I cope with it?’ I was in bits, I was shaking. I called them up straight away and asked what it means because I thought I was taking somebody else’s appointment that they need. There are some women out there that don’t have the resilience and will have put the letter straight in the bin.”
The number of women invited for screening has increased by more than half a million in the last decade. Last year 2.59 million were invited for a mammogram, with 1.84 million attending screening, a fraction being women who did not require an appointment.
Sally Greenbrook, policy manager at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s concerning that some women who have had double mastectomies are being caused significant distress as a result of receiving unnecessary invitations to breast screening. We need better links between screening services and GP records and a sufficient breast screening IT system to ensure this doesn’t happen.”
NHS England said there was clear guidance on which cases should not be called in and clinicians should contact the breast screening office to check whether a patient has had a mastectomy.
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