A cancer survivor has urged elderly women to go for a mammogram - even though they do not receive invitations.
Brigitta Barton, aged 73, of Hyde Park, Doncaster, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June after going for a voluntary mammogram - and is now urging other women to ask for a breast screening, even though it is not compulsory for those who are over the age of 70.
Women think they are safe once they reach 70 and it won’t happen to them, but it can
At present, only women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for a mammogram by the NHS every three years. After that, women have to request to have one.
Brigitta said: “I went to the doctor about my hearing aid in May, and while I was there I just thought I would ask when my next mammogram was as it knew it had been a while since I last had one.
“They told me I wouldn’t be asked to go for one because I’m over 70 but I could still have one if I wanted. I went for one a couple of weeks later.
“On June 16, I was asked to go back to my doctor and told I had cancer. They said I would need an operation and radiotherapy to remove the cancerous cells.
“I had the operation in July and started radiotherapy in August. Luckily, they caught it early and treatment was successful, but it doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened if I hadn’t requested to have a mammogram.”
A spokesperson from Public Health England in Yorkshire, said: “The NHS Breast Screening Programme is based on the best available evidence .
“Every woman is made aware of their right to request a screening appointment after the age of 70 and is given information on how to self-refer at their last appointment to which they were invited.
“Public Health England is currently conducting a major research trial looking at an additional screening invitation for women aged 47-49 and 71-73 to decide whether to offer screening to more women.
“It’s important that women of all ages should get to know how their breasts look and feel normally, so they will find it easier to spot something unusual.
“Possible symptoms include a lump or thickening of the breast or armpit, or changes in the shape or size of the breast. Women who experience any of these symptoms should visit their GP without delay.”
The grandmother added: “I don’t remember being given a letter at my last mammogram telling me I’d have to request them in future because of my age.
“I don’t see why they can’t just send letters out anyway telling women to ring up if they want one. It’s so important, it saves lives.
“It’s so easy to forget how long it has been since your last mammogram as well, and I don’t think all women are aware of the age policy.
“I also think some women think they are safe once they reach 70 and it won’t happen to them, but it can. I urge all women to go for their mammogram every three years.”