NHS Western Isles is informing the community that the Breast Screening Mobile Unit is back in the Western Isles this year.

If you’re a woman over the age of 50, the combination of checking your breasts regularly and attending your breast screening appointments gives you the best chance of being diagnosed early - and surviving - breast cancer. From late summer this year, women aged between 50-70 years living in the Western Isles and registered with a GP practice will receive a letter or an invitation to attend the mobile unit.

In the last round of screening across the Western Isles which took place in 2020, over one in five women didn’t take up the offer of screening, with only 78% of the women invited attending their appointment. 

Ignoring the invitation leaves women at risk. Dr Maggie Watts, Director of Public Health with NHS Western Isles said: “Breast cancer remains the commonest cancer in Western Isles women but it’s also very treatable when caught early. I encourage every woman who is invited to attend for breast screening, to take up the offer.  We are using four central locations across the islands to make it easier for women to be screened; the appointment only takes a few minutes and the staff are welcoming and helpful.” 

This year, to maximise the unit’s capacity and reduce empty screening slots, women who previously did not attend their appointment will receive a letter asking them to call the screening centre to make their appointment. Please look out for the letter and take up this opportunity to be screened.

Attending your breast screening appointment is important for your health. It involves having X-ray images taken of your breasts (mammograms). If you are due to attend for the first time or are worried about what might happen in the appointment, we recommend you have a look at the Health Scotland video, in which actress Elaine C. Smith has her breast screening appointment. The video is available at: Behind the (Breast) Screens Video.

The breast screening mobile unit will be in locations across the Western Isles from August 2023, so look out for it and for your appointment.

The dates for screening in each location are:

  • Barra (Castlebay): Week beginning 21st August 2023
  • Uist (Balivanich): Week beginning 21st August 2023
  • Harris (Tarbert): Week beginning 25th September 2023
  • Lewis (Stornoway): Week beginning 9th October 2023

Letters will be sent out 4 weeks before your appointment date. If the day is not suitable please contact the phone number on the letter to change your slot. If you do not want the appointment, please let us know so it can be allocated to someone else.

The breast screening invite will also be sent to non-binary people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) and haven't had breast removal surgery, trans women who are taking hormones and trans men who haven't had breast removal surgery.