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Breast screening crucially important – Health Minister

Minister Swann with SHSCT & PHA staff at Breast Screening Mobile Unit in Newry.

The Health Minister has highlighted the importance of cancer screening following a visit to a Mobile Breast Screening Unit at Dromalane House in Newry.

During the visit Minister Swann was able to see how the mobile unit operated and speak to staff and women using the service.

Speaking afterwards, the Minister said:

“Cancer unfortunately impacts on most of us at some point in our lives. Therefore it’s vital that people attend screenings when they are invited to do so.

“Breast Screening Units like this one are crucially important to local communities and make screening very accessible. I urge you to come when you receive the invitation for screening.

“I would also like to thank the team at the unit for delivering this vital service for women in the wider Newry area.”

Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage, often before there are any symptoms. Early detection may often mean simpler and more successful treatment. To do this, an x-ray is taken of each breast (mammogram). A visit to a breast screening unit usually takes less than 30 minutes and the mammogram only takes a few minutes. 

Results will normally be sent to the woman within 2-3 weeks of her attendance at the Breast Screening Unit and her GP will also receive a copy of the results.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) commissions and quality assures the Breast Screening Programme in Northern Ireland.

Dr Sinéad McGuinness, the PHA’s Quality Assurance lead on Breast Screening, said:

“Breast screening remains the best way we have of detecting breast cancer at an early stage when treatment can be more effective.”

She continued: “I would encourage all those who are invited for breast screening to consider attending.”

There are two specialist digital mobile units in the Southern Trust area which rotate between, Lurgan Hospital, Dromalane House Newry, Armagh Community Hospital, Banbridge Health Centre and South Tyrone Hospitals.

Sarah Conway, Breast Lead Radiographer, said:

“In the Southern Trust, our mobile breast screening unit alternates between five community locations throughout the Trust area. We want to save as many lives as possible by encouraging early detection of breast cancer by making the process much more convenient and accessible to women.

“We are encouraged that so many patients attend their screening appointment when called. We have an amazing team in the Southern Trust who are dedicated to improving awareness and attendance of routine breast screening appointments.”

It’s important to be symptom aware. See your GP if you notice any changes that aren’t normal for you, especially if the changes are only in one breast.

Breast changes to look out for include:

·         changes in appearance, size or outline of either breast, especially those caused by arm movement

·         any puckering, dimpling or redness of the skin or veins that stand out more than usual

·         any lumps or thickening in either breast that feels different from the other breast

·         any swelling or lumps under your armpit or around your collarbone

·         changes to your nipples, including nipples that have become pulled in, changed shape or show signs of discharge, bleeding, rash or crusted, flaky skin

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you have breast cancer, but if you have them, make an appointment to see your GP immediately.  

For information on Breast Screening in Northern Ireland please visit:

Women are typically screened in their area of residence. Outside of the Belfast Trust area, most breast screening is provided on mobile breast screening units. These visit a number of different sites throughout Northern Ireland.


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