Online breast cancer awareness programme launched to help save lives
The Women’s Resource and Development Agency’s (WRDA) ground-breaking awareness programme was originally developed to help tackle inequalities in the uptake of breast cancer screening - as women living in deprived circumstances are less likely to attend.
The programme aims to raise awareness, explore and address fears surrounding breast screening and encourage participants to attend. The work is funded by the Public Health Agency.
With Covid-19 ruling out the usual face to face awareness raising sessions, the WRDA Training and Development Team has created integrated online awareness programmes, including webinars, Zoom group sessions and a series of animated storyboards, so this vital work can continue.
WRDA Director Anne McVicker said: “The online programme spreads the message of the importance of screening in finding breast cancers early and in potentially saving lives. It also covers breast cancer symptoms and advises anyone with those symptoms to contact their GP as soon as possible, even during the pandemic. It is essential that we get these key messages out widely now.”
The Northern Ireland Breast Screening Programme uses mammograms (a type of x-ray) to help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Although routine breast cancer screening was paused for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it restarted again in July 2020.
Dr Adrian Mairs from the Public Health Agency said: “The WRDA online resources are an excellent way of sharing important information about breast care and reminding women who notice changes in their breasts to contact their GP as soon as possible. Screening remains the best way we have of detecting breast cancer at an early stage when treatment can be more effective.
“We have been working with the Health & Social Care Trusts to put measures in place to allow women to attend for screening, with strict Covid safety precautions in place. I would encourage all those who are invited for screening to attend. However, women should not attend their appointment if they, or any member of their household, have symptoms of Covid-19, or are self-isolating. These women should contact their local breast screening unit to reschedule for a different time”.
Feedback from the WRDA programme indicates that women are much more likely to attend for screening after participating in the programme. A survey of participants who took part in the face to face sessions before the pandemic, showed that 98% intend to regularly check their breasts, while 99% reported they would attend for breast screening when next invited by the Breast Screening Programme.
The WRDA is currently taking bookings for group sessions delivered on Zoom and the three webinars are also available on the WRDA website: https://wrda.net/breast-cervical-and-bowel-screening-awareness-programme/