Letter: Health screening

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The Independent Culture
Letter:

Health screening

Sir: Tessa James shouldn't feel guilty about her fear of screening ("Get your hands off me", 11 May). The decision to attend for screening is up to her and she has obviously made her decision after careful consideration of both sides of the argument.

If she no longer wishes to receive invitations for either breast or cervical screening she can contact her doctor and request that all invitations are stopped.

Obviously the National Screening Programme would prefer that women make the decision to come forward for screening. The point of the screening process is to detect abnormalities or early cancers in order to give women a better chance of survival.

We recognise that many women find these examinations embarrassing and uncomfortable but only a small proportion (7 per cent) of women complained of pain during mammography when asked.

With regard to Ms James's point about the mass screening of men for testicular cancer, there is no evidence that having a screening programme for this cancer would save lives.

The death rate for testicular cancer is extremely low. In 1997 there were 68 deaths in England and Wales from testicular cancer.

JULIETTA PATNICK

National Co-ordinator

NHS Screening Programme

Sheffield

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