Breast Screening Mobile Unit returns to Derry this month

The Western Health and Social Care Trust Mobile Breast Screening Unit returns to the Shantallow area of Derry from Monday, August 15.

By Brendan McDaid
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 1:10 pm

The mobile unit will be based in Shantallow Health Centre, Derry, with a second unit for people in Tyrone at Dunne’s Stores Carpark, Omagh.

Marietta Connor, Lead Mammographer at the Western Trust advised: “Beginning with GP surgeries in Northside Derry/Londonderry and Three Spires Surgery Omagh, the Trust will be offering appointments for ladies aged 50-70 to attend for their mammogram as part of the NHS Breast Screening Programme. The Programme offers appointments to ladies aged 50-70 every three years to attend for a routine mammogram.”

She added: “For every 100 ladies who attend around two will be recalled for further tests at the Breast Assessment Unit based at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Minister Swann with staff & PHA staff at a recent Breast Screening Mobile Unit in Newry.

“We would encourage ladies to attend their screening appointment when called as early detection is vitally important. If you are unable to attend your appointment, please contact the Unit so that others may avail of that appointment. Whilst we endeavour to offer appointments, as close to clients as possible, we need to use all available capacity to ensure that ladies receive appointments on time.

“If you have worries about any breast symptoms please contact your GP and don’t wait on your screening invitation before raising those concerns.

“Ladies over the age of 70 can still make an appointment to attend for breast screening every three years and any woman in this category can call the Breast Screening Unit on 028 7161 1443 to make an appointment.”

The Health Minister Robin Swann recently has highlighted the importance of cancer screening following a visit to a similar Mobile Breast Screening Unit in Newry.

During the visit Minister Swann was able to see how the mobile unit operated and speak to staff and women using the service.

Speaking afterwards, the Minister said: “Cancer unfortunately impacts on most of us at some point in our lives. Therefore it’s vital that people attend screenings when they are invited to do so.

“Breast Screening Units like this one are crucially important to local communities and make screening very accessible. I urge you to come when you receive the invitation for screening.

“I would also like to thank the team at the unit for delivering this vital service for women.”

Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage, often before there are any symptoms. Early detection may often mean simpler and more successful treatment. To do this, an x-ray is taken of each breast (mammogram). A visit to a breast screening unit usually takes less than 30 minutes and the mammogram only takes a few minutes. Results will normally be sent to the woman within 2-3 weeks of her attendance at the Breast Screening Unit and her GP will also receive a copy of the results.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) commissions and quality assures the Breast Screening Programme in Northern Ireland.

Dr Sinéad McGuinness, the PHA’s Quality Assurance lead on Breast Screening, said: “Breast screening remains the best way we have of detecting breast cancer at an early stage when treatment can be more effective.”

She continued: “I would encourage all those who are invited for breast screening to consider attending.”

It’s important to be symptom aware. See your GP if you notice any changes that aren’t normal for you, especially if the changes are only in one breast.

Breast changes to look out for include:

*changes in appearance, size or outline of either breast, especially those caused by arm movement

*any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin or veins that stand out more than usual

*any lumps or thickening in either breast that feels different from the other breast

*any swelling or lumps under your armpit or around your collarbone

*changes to your nipples, including nipples that have become pulled in, changed shape or show signs of discharge, bleeding, rash or crusted, flaky skin

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you have breast cancer, but if you have them, make an appointment to see your GP immediately.