Taking part in breast screening can help other women

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  E E Marriott 3 years, 4 months ago.

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    Hi, not all women who are invited to attend for breast screening take part Some women go once and don’t go for screening again. I wonder why (when it is a well establishef screening programme) not everyone is willing to undergo screening?


    Thank you Annie for posting here. As a health professional and a woman, I too wonder about this…can any woman here suggest what their friends have said about why they did not attend or cancel their appointment?



    Some research has been done in this area and it appears there are a number of different reasons. Some people are concerned about the examination procedure. They think it will be too painful or embarrassing (what do other forum members think about this?). Others are concerned about the chance of being diagnosed with a very early stage ‘pre-cancer’ which they will be treated for but which might not need treatment (there’s been a lot in the press about this and you can read more about it in the DCIS section under the information tab above). For others it’s a cultural/religious decision, that if they get cancer it’s preordained so do not want to intervene in what fate had decreed for them. Some women believe the race to which they belong has a low incidence of cancer so the risk of them getting it is very small.
    So I guess there are a lot of reasons. Some of these based on deep seated beliefs which a woman is entitled to have but others are based on misinformation. The WOMMeN sites aims to make sure there isn’t misinformation but there is freedom of choice.

    Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography, University of Salford


    cathy hill

    I agree with Leslie for those that don’t attend. For those women that go once and then never again, some research by Patsy Whelehan has shown that pain stopped them from reattending. The first visit was too painful, but, this can be down to a number of factors and the experience in the second visit can be totally different.
    As a practitioner it is always disappointing to hear that women don’t return due to pain, as there are lots of external factors that can make an examination more uncomfortable than it needs to be; stage in the menstrual cycle, being tense, having drunk caffeine and/or smoked a cigarette. If a lady were to mention to the practitioner that they found it uncomfortable the last time, we can do our upmost to ensure that this visit is more bearable.



    Captivating posts from all of you, thankyou. Just to highlight Leslie’s point regarding religion and breast screening, Breast cancer screening uptake amongst the Muslim community more so the South Asian Muslim community is extremely low. From the Islamic perspective health is viewed as ‘one of the greatest blessings that God has bestowed on mankind’. Islam emphasises preserving life,staying healthy and seeking treatment for sickness. Despite this belief, there is research to suggest that Muslims are less likely to attend for breast screening compared to the general public.

    Could there be a need for health promotion with the influence of Religious/Spritual factors?

    What are your thoughts everybody?




    E E Marriott

    I very much agree with everything so far. One other factor I would like to add into the mix here though is mammographer attitude.

    We would all like to think that we are effective at promoting a welcoming environment to the screening population, however if we are managing to put first time attendees off due to pain, are we really going far enough in terms of communicating with the ladies we see to reassure them that discomfort may be experienced and that the reasons for compression and position etc are valid?

    Personally, I am very much in favour of handing the control of the examination back to each lady I screen by advising them that if they are struggling at any time with any aspect of the examination that we can stop, and that the offer to either reappoint to another day (perhaps to another point in their cycle) or if they can persevere even trying changing position slightly is very often all that’s required. I think sometimes that empowerment for someone who has arrived with no previous experience of mammography can be enough to influence future screening adherence. Bringing the control issue back to people isn’t the whole story of course, but I’ve found in many cases it can break down a barrier or two and often allows ladies to open up more and have a more positive experience.

    I know certainly from experience that we are all very busy a lot of the time but I just wondered if the communication issue was a point we’ve maybe left behind a little?

    Or am I rambling – it’s late, I could be!!


    Wife, Mother, Clinical Specialist Radiographer, Eternal Student. Exceptionally proud to work in breast screening.

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