REVEALED: Statistics show Harrogate to have highest breast cancer mortality rate

Linda Ko Ferrigno
Linda Ko Ferrigno

Alarming statistics have revealed more women are diagnosed with and die from breast cancer in the Harrogate District than anywhere else in Yorkshire.

From April 2014 to March 2015, nearly 900 women in the Harrogate and Rural District CCG were urgently referred to hospital with signs of breast cancer.

The statistics.

The statistics.

Figures from the years previous show that from the start of 2012 to close of 2014, there were 176 cases of breast cancer and 41 deaths from breast cancer per 100,000 women across the district.

The figures are far more than the Yorkshire averages of 160 cases and 34 deaths per 100,000 women in the same three year period.

The research has prompted officials at Harrogate-based charity, Yorkshire Cancer Research to urge more women to get screened this October, for breast cancer awareness month.

Lisa Trickett, Community Health Initiatives Manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “With such high breast cancer incidence rates in the Harrogate area, it is vital that as many women as possible attend their screening appointments when invited.

"Screening can detect cancer before symptoms are noticeable, so it is incredibly important in catching the disease at an early stage, when treatment options and chances of a full recovery are greater.

“If any women have missed their screening appointment or they are above the upper age limit of 70, they can request an appointment from their local screening centre and we would urge them to do so.

"If you are between screens, or too young for screening, then please check your breasts yourself and talk to a doctor straight away if you notice anything unusual.”

Breast screening is currently available through the NHS for all women aged 50 to 70, and women are invited to attend appointments every three years.

Screening rates in Harrogate are above the national average, with 74.8% of women taking part in the programme, but a quarter of women are still failing to go for screening when invited.

Research also shows that breast cancer rates tend to be higher in more affluent areas, and health officials associate this with lifestyle factors such as obesity, alcohol intake and a lack of exercise.

Around 27 per cent of all breast cancers are believed to be caused by lifestyle factors.

One Harrogate woman has spoken out about her own experience of breast cancer in a bid to support awareness this October and echoed YCR's call for more women to get screened.

Linda Ko Ferrigno, 51, found a lump on her breast when she was prompted to check herself for symptoms after a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Having visiting her GP and been referred to hospital, Linda was diagnosed herself and underwent a lumpectomy in November 2015 followed by a three-week course of radiotherapy.

Linda will now have to take cancer prevention drugs and attend annual mammograms for the next five years so doctors can monitor her breasts for any signs of the cancer returning.

She said: “I know you don’t have time, or that you forget and sometimes just can’t be bothered to check your breasts. I know because that’s how I felt for the past 30 years.

"But it’s crucially important and it’s how my own breast cancer was picked up at an early stage.

"Breast cancer screening is vitally important. Yes, it’s a little inconvenient and uncomfortable, but those 15 minutes you spend at your screening appointment could save your life.”