Breast screening service is a real life saver

An inspirational Padiham woman whose life was saved by a mammogram has spoken out about her ordeal following the NHS breast screening scandal.
Dany full of praise for vital serviceDany full of praise for vital service
Dany full of praise for vital service

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed last week hundreds of thousands of women aged 68 to 71 had not been invited to their final routine breast cancer screening because of a computer error.

Women in England aged between 50 and 70 are currently automatically invited for breast cancer screening every three years.

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However, a computer glitch meant around 450,000 older women aged between 70 and 79 have been affected by the technical issue dating back to 2009 and which has only caught this year.

Now, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust chiefs have urged women offered invitations for screenings to attend their appointment.

Dany Robson, a freelance journalist, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, underwent a mastectomy in January, followed by a course of radiotherapy two months ago.

The 47-year-old marathon runner, who has covered Accrington Stanley since 2003, following all their trials and tribulations, said screenings can be the difference between life and death.

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She explained: “I have been having annual mammograms as I was put on the family history programme six years ago due to my mum, Beryl Robson, dying of breast cancer in 2005 and my aunty Val Hulme, dying of ovarian cancer in November last year.

“I would say the breast screening service saved my life. They caught the cancer and it was just 7mm, it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes and so my treatment was relatively straightforward although, due to family history, I did have to have a major operation and have to have the other breast done in the future.”

Dany, who is the daughter of Clarets’ legend Jimmy Robson, ran a half marathon during mid-radiotherapy treatment for the Rosemere Cancer Charity – making the most of every mile. She added: “If I hadn’t been having breast screening every year, I would have started my breast screening at 50 the cancer could have spread elsewhere by then.”

Following the scandal, Dr Jenny Harries, deputy medical director for Public Health England, said: “On behalf of NHS breast screening services, we apologise to the women affected. They and their families’ wellbeing is our top priority and we are very sorry for these faults in the system. A complex IT problem with the breast screening invitation system has led to some women not being invited for their final screen between their 68th and 71st birthdays.

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“The NHS breast screening programme is a world leading prevention service for women in England detecting around 18,400 cancers per year and saving 1,300 lives.

“Local breast screening services are currently working closely with NHS England and PHE to ensure that all of the women affected are contacted and offered the opportunity for a screen.

“The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has commissioned an independent review of the NHS breast screening programme to look at issues, including its processes, IT systems and further changes and improvements that can be made to the system to minimise the risk of any repetition of this incident.”