Survivors of breast cancer urge Norfolk women to get screened as figures reveal fewer are going for scans

Beverley Birritteri.

Beverley Birritteri.

A breast cancer survivor is today urging others to go for screening, as figures show fewer Norfolk women are opting for potentially life-saving scans.

Laura Hughes, 26, was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. Photo: Bill Smith

Laura Hughes, 26, was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. Photo: Bill Smith

The proportion of women in Norfolk being screened for breast cancer has fallen year-on-year, according to data released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre this week.

At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), uptake by women aged 50 to 64 who were invited to a routine screening has fallen year-on-year for the last six years, from 81.1% in 2008-09 to 77.5% in 2013-14.

It mirrors a national trend, which has seen a third consecutive annual drop in the number of women going for routine screenings.

Norfolk woman Beverley Birritteri, 59, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 as the result of a routine screening.


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The mother-of-two, who was treated at the N&N and given the all clear, believes her decision to go for a scan probably saved her life.

'I was really lucky,' she said. 'If I had left it any longer, it would have been far worse.

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'Things would have been pretty dire, I think.

'I'm horrified people aren't taking this up.

'I could be dead now if I hadn't had it done.'

Mrs Birritteri, who is co-founder and a trustee of the Keeping Abreast breast cancer reconstruction support group, had a mastectomy as the cancer had spread over a large area.

But she said it a non-invasive cancer, and the outlook for women is much improved if there is an early diagnosis.

'I had it done at 50 and I understand they now screen at 47, which would have picked me up even earlier,' she said. 'I can't believe people aren't taking up screenings.

'If you catch it early there's so much you can do.

'I'm nearly nine years down the line now.'

And she said there was 'no way' she would miss out on future routine screenings.

'I probably wouldn't be here if I hadn't had it,' she said. 'There was no lump.

'I would urge anybody to go and get a scan done.

'Just because you don't get it done doesn't mean it won't happen.'

Laura Hughes, 26, of Norwich, is too young for a routine screening, but was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 25 after noticing a lump and going to see her doctor.

Her cancer is now in remission, and she works with the CoppaFeel charity to urge others to watch out for early signs.

Asked about the figures, that show fewer women are going for screenings, she said: 'It's concerning.

'It shows people aren't taking their health seriously.

'If you're asked by the doctor to come for a routine check up it's for your benefit.

'If you don't go to it, you're putting yourself at risk.'

For more on Keeping Abreast, see www.keepingabreast.org.uk/

For details on CoppaFeel, see coppafeel.org/

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