THOUSANDS of lives could be saved thanks a new £300,000 X-ray machine for breast cancer sufferers.
The digital mammography system at University Hospital, Durham, is more comfortable for patients and provides better information for doctors.
“It gives a type of three-dimensional image,” said radiology consultant Dr Julie Cox. “This enables us to give a better diagnosis.
“The use of digital technology is much faster and simpler to use than the old film method, so taking a mammogram should be less stressful for the patient.
“Better and earlier detection can reduce the need for further examinations and tests, which is more good news for the patient.”
The machine will be used on patients referred by their GP.
“It is vital women continue to be breast aware,” added Dr Cox. “They should keep an eye out for symptoms – lumps, bumps, discharge or discomfort – and attend for screening when invited.”
The machine was unveiled by Dr Cox and agony aunt Denise Robertson.
“I’ve had mammograms over the years and it could be a frightening experience,” said Denise, of East Boldon. “Often they put another film in and called you back for another go, so you were convinced you were going to die.
“But this new machine makes the process so much more pleasant and it gives better information to the doctors, which means everyone’s a winner.
“I’ve had many letters over the years from patients and their families who didn’t seek help soon enough.
“With wonderful treatment such as this available, it’s vital now more than ever for women to be breast aware.”