Elaine C Smith cancer ad sparks rise in testing

A HARD-HITTING ad campaign has sparked a huge rise in the number of women coming forward for breast cancer testing which is putting NHS services under strain.

The health drive featuring actress Elaine C Smith has led to hundreds more women being referred by their GPs in just one month – with around a 50 per cent increase recorded in NHS Lothian.

The soaring number of screenings has brought calls for increased capacity in treatment to keep pace with the Government’s early detection drive. Featuring a seemingly topless Elaine C Smith, the ad has received widespread publicity and shows the actress holding a number of pictures that displayed breasts showing the early signs of the disease.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

The Government’s early detection campaign is due to cover the three most common cancer killers in Scotland; the focus first on breast cancer and then bowel and lung cancer.

Health boards across Scotland will be expected to achieve a 25 per cent increase in those diagnosed and treated in the first stages of the types of cancer combined by 2015.

The £30 million campaign will see extra money being paid to health boards to increase early detection rates.

The demand on services comes after an earlier report found that 4000 woman a year in the UK are given unnecessary treatment for cancer through the breast screening programme which checks women between the ages of 50 and 70. However, the study found the benefits outweighed the harms with the relative risk of dying from breast cancer 20 per cent less than those who did not go through the clinical investigation.

Audrey Birt, Scotland Director at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “We are pleased Detect Cancer Early is having a positive effect with more women getting any concerns about signs and symptoms of breast cancer checked out by their GP. However it is also important that local health services are adequately resourced to manage this increase in workload.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “£30m is being invested across all areas of NHS boards to support the programme, and this includes increasing diagnostic capacity.”