Thursday, 21 February 2008

Breast cancer hot spot fears are allayed

FEARS that Minehead was becoming a hot spot for breast cancer cases among women have been allayed.
Figures given to The Post showed there had been 18 cases diagnosed in a 14-week period from October, 2007, to the end of the year.
Compared with a national figures which indicated for a town the size of Minehead there should be just 8.7 per year, it seemed there had been a dramatic rise.
The figures were collected from a mobile screening unit which visited the town from October to January of this year, and a local GP surgery.
But Dr Julia Verne, director of the South West Public Health Observatory, said: “This recent increase in the detection of breast cancer for women living in and around Minehead is entirely expected and due to the effectiveness of the mobile breast screening service.
“However, I do appreciate how people may mistakenly jump to the conclusion that there has been a sudden increase in breast cancer when they hear of increased numbers of cases.
“It does not indicate an unusual or higher than expected rise in the disease.
“The same effect occurs whenever the mobile breast screening service visits an area and occurred back in 2004 when the mobile screening service last visited Minehead.
“Breast screening has been shown to save lives. The mobile breast screening service is able to detect breast cancers which women may not be able to detect themselves.
“Early detection and treatment results in the best outcome for the small number of women who may be affected by the disease and I would therefore strongly recommend that all women take up the invitation to be screened when they receive an invitation letter.
“Women who identify a lump in their breast or be concerned about any breast abnormality should make an appointment with their GP to discuss their concerns.”
Dr Verne said given that the population was considerably older in Minehead than in other parts of the country a meaningful comparison of average figures could only be made between age-standardised rates of cancer.
Over the last 10 years of available data (1996 to 2005) there were 129 cases of malignant breast cancer in Minehead, which equates to a age-standardised rate of 125 cases per 100 000.
Dr Verne said it was not significantly different (statistically speaking) either from the English age standardised rate - 120.6 cases per 100,000, or from the age standardised rate for Somerset - 136 cases per 100,000, or from the South West of England - 137 cases per 100,000.
The Somerset Breast Cancer Unit is responsible for providing three-yearly breast cancer screening in the area.
In Minehead, this is provided by a mobile screening unit which visits the town for approximately three months every three years.
The last visit happened between October, 2007, and January, 2008, and the previous one in late 2004.
Dr Verne said: “At this point not all women picked up by the latest breast screening visit have undergone all their testing and treatment.
“Therefore, it is not possible to provide a confirmed number of cases.
“Some of these abnormal breast screenings might also prove not to be cancer.
“In 2004 a similar number was detected compared to the recent mobile breast screening service visit.
“In conclusion, we believe that the number of cases of cancer picked up by this screening round is typical for Minehead, and the overall rate of breast cancer is normal for a town with Minehead’s population and demographic composition.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.