It takes just 10 minutes to save a life

KIRKCALDY;'Mobile breast screening unit; - Nicola Beaton, assistant mammographer, and Julie Keanie, with mammogram machine (Tanya)''Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
KIRKCALDY;'Mobile breast screening unit; - Nicola Beaton, assistant mammographer, and Julie Keanie, with mammogram machine (Tanya)''Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
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“IT’S just 10 minutes of your life – but it could help save your life.”

The simple statement from one Kirkcaldy woman says it all, yet women in and around the town are still putting off going for their breast screening appointment.

Breast screening appointments are offered automatically to women aged between 50 and 70, with every woman being given an appointment to attend one of the service’s five mobile units within three years of their 50th birthday.

It is offered every three years to over 50s, but women under that age are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to be “breast aware”.

Pinprick

Breast screening is a method of detecting breast cancer at a very early stage – in fact it can pick up an abnormality the size of a pinprick, often preventing the need for major surgery.

And, with two units currently in the town – one at Asda and one at Sainsbury’s car parks, seeing around 50 women each day since April, it is anticipated that around 4500 women over 50 have been screened this time around.

Mary Tait, health promotions facilitator with the South East of Scotland Breast Screening Service, said: “Fife is better than a lot of other areas of Scotland when it comes to taking up appointments, but we would like to do better.

“The uptake in the central and west Fife area last time around was 72.1 per cent compared to a national average of 75 per cent, but better than the minimum which is 70 per cent.

“If they are unable to or don’t want to take the appointment given to them, then we would be grateful if they could let us know in advance so an alternative arrangement can be made.”

Guide

Each of the service’s five mobile units is staffed by trained female radiographers and assistant practitioners specialising in mammography who will guide women through the examination.

The first step involves an X-ray of each breast called a mammogram, taken while the breast is carefully compressed between two plates.

The mammogram can detect small changes in breast tissue which may indicate cancers which are too small to be felt either by the woman herself or by a doctor.

“Most women are a bit apprehensive before their first visit but everyone’s experience is different, and usually once they have been for one mammogram they will realise it is not that bad,” explained Mary.

The mobile service will be in Kirkcaldy until the end of this month, before moving on to Methil and Buckhaven on a circuit around Fife.