Despite the fact that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the UK, many women ignore their invitations to go for regular mammograms. Speaking to the Leicester Mercury, one woman has told her story about her cancer diagnosis and how she ignored the initial letter she received asking her to go for a mammogram.
Bindu Dulabh explained that she didn’t pay attention to her first letter calling her for screening, but luckily she did make an appointment to go at a later date. She said that she was really busy when she received the initial screening invitation and as a result didn’t make the time to go. However, after speaking to her husband, they decided she should make a new appointment and have a mammogram. Mrs Dulabh said:
“If I hadn’t have re-made my appointment, I would not be cancer free today…”
It took three weeks from her initial mammogram, following additional appointments, before she was given her breast cancer diagnosis. Luckily, the screening process meant that her cancer was still caught at an early stage and it wasn’t aggressive. Mrs Dulabh had a lumpectomy and because the cancer hadn’t spread, she didn’t need to undergo any chemotherapy.
Now she is urging other women, particularly those from ethnic minorities, to make sure that they attend their mammogram appointments. Her doctors told her that, had she waited another three years for her next screening invitation, the prognosis would have been a lot more serious.
Mrs Dulabh also revealed that as a result of her experiences with breast cancer she encouraged another relative to go for her mammogram. She, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage and is undergoing similar treatment to that Mrs Dulabh had.
“Sometimes cancer becomes taboo and a lot of people hide their illness when they are diagnosed, which stops people knowing the importance of getting checked out…”
As well as talking openly about her diagnosis and treatment, Mrs Dulabh is also hosting a charity event to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care.
Although some women can be apprehensive about going for a mammogram, there’s nothing to fear. There are also other ways of breast cancer self screening for anyone who’s really worried about a mammogram. The BREAST-i device allows you to see any unusual dark patches in your breast tissue that could indicate the presence of a tumour. It’s simple to use and can be done at home. If you notice anything unusual, you should make an appointment with your GP.
Having a home testing device allows you to check your breasts more frequently than if you solely rely on mammograms, which are carried out every three years for women aged 50 to 70.
Earlier this year, University College London recommended a change to the breast cancer screening programme in the UK. Its researchers found that only calling women in moderate to high risk groups to come for screening would reduce overdiagnosis of breast cancer. Women who weren’t automatically called for screening could examine themselves and use home breast screening devices to identify any changes in their breasts.