New technology marks major progress for Breast Cancer Screening service
Created 30/11/2009 14:53
The North London Breast Screening Service (NLBSS), delivered by Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust to women from six Primary Care Trusts, has completed the replacement of all its analogue screening devices with digital technology.
Digital mammography is similar to standard mammography in that x-rays are used to produce detailed images of the breast, detecting potential cancers that are too small to be felt by the patient or a doctor. However, a digital receptor and computer are used to record the image rather than a film cassette.
The result is an image that is both sharper and more readily available than that obtained from the old devices. This leads to earlier detection for more women than before and therefore faster intervention and improved survival rates.
This will improve the experience for some women who may have previously been asked to return for a second mammogram due to a poor quality image being taken on a mobile screening van. Their images will now appear instantly when the mammogram is taken so that any repeats required can be carried out straight away. It will also facilitate the age extension bringing the lower and upper ages to 47-73 year olds set out in the national Cancer Reform Strategy. This is because it is a more suitable technology for women who may be premenopausal.
Implementation of the technology by the NLBSS began in July and the last patient to be screened with an analogue device was examined in mid-November.
Women can access the service from six PCTs, comprising Barnet, Enfield, Brent, Harrow, Haringey and West Hertfordshire. Around 92,000 women (aged 50-70 years) have already been invited for screening in the current financial year, of which 50,000 have chosen to be examined so far.
There are 82 screening services across the UK, but the NLBSS is one of the largest. It is also only the 6th to date that has fully upgraded to the new technology and is the first to do so in London.