Health for Women:
Breast Cancer screening in Cataluña
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. 1 in 8 women will develop it in their lifetime. It represents 25% of all the cancers women experience. Spain has had a slightly lower rate of breast cancer than other parts of Europe but recent studies show this is on the increase. This may be related to changing lifestyles and habits of younger women. Breast cancer is more common after women reach menopause. 80% of all cases occur in post menopausal women. The risks of developing breast cancer (based on UK rates) when aged 20 are 1 in 2000, but steadily increase: for example at 39 the risk becomes 1 in 215 and at 69 the risk is 1 in 13. T he long term survival rate of women with breast cancer has greatly improved since the introduction of Breast cancer screening programmes. These programmes have reduced the mortality rates by 25 to 35 %. Catching a tumour in its early stages reduces treatment and improves survival rates. Screening involves having a mammogram, which is a non-invasive procedure in the form of a low dose X-ray, which is only mildly uncomfortable. There has in the past been some concern that breast screening can lead to false positive results which are stressful. However recent studies now confirm the benefits well outweigh the risks and women are encouraged to have them. Here in Spain breast cancer screening is organised by the Generalitat de Cataluña. Women between the ages of 50 and 69 (the optimum age for screening) are offered a mammogram every two years (you can also continue to request one over age 69). You should receive a letter with an appointment time and venue (which you can change for convenience). If you are from a high risk group (you have a family history of breast cancer, carry the BRC A2 BRC A1 gene, or have previously had cancer, you are entitled to screening at a younger age and need to ask your family doctor or gynaecologist to arrange it. Anyone who suffers symptoms before screening or in between (symptoms such as: a lump, pain, discharge or any other symptom that’s worrying) should always consult their doctor who should assess the situation. For more information go to; http://www.breastcancercampaign.org/about-breast-cancer/breast-cancer-symptoms.
If you are aged between 50 and 69 years and have not received any notice of screening for breast cancer, call 902 111 444 Sanitat Respon to arrange one. Only 65% of women take up the screening which seems a shame as early diagnosis greatly increases your chances of survival should you develop the disease.