NHS Cancer Screening Programmes help all women to make an informed choice about screening

Published 4th March, 2002

"Women, who are hard of hearing, visually impaired or whose first language is not English should not miss out on being able to make a genuinely informed choice about whether or not to accept their invitation for screening", says Julietta Patnick, National Coordinator of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes.

Last October, the Programmes launched two new leaflets to give women clear, honest and balanced information about the benefits and limitations of breast and cervical screening, meeting the commitment in the NHS Cancer Plan. Now, they have teamed up with Talking Newspapers for their help in transcribing the leaflets into an audio format and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) who have developed the English Braille version.

The leaflets have also been translated into five languages: Gujarati, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali and Chinese in the version of Cantonese. They have been extensively researched and tested in focus groups to ensure that the translations made from English were easy to understand and in the context of women's own experiences.

"Some women assume that as information is only available in English, the screening programme is exclusively aimed at English women. We have worked very hard with women from these minority ethnic groups to ensure that important information is translated correctly and accurately" said Delphine Abbott, Senior Editor, Health Promotion England.

Dr. Lai Fong Chiu, a senior research fellow at the Nuffield Institute for Health said: "We have found in our research that a large number of minority women who did not attend screening did not fully understand what would happen to them if they were to have a mammogram. The translated versions of the leaflets will certainly act as a point of reference, even for women who are not literate in their own language, as their friends and relatives may be able to read them and pass the information on."

The leaflets will be translated into a further twelve languages. Hindi, Somali, Polish, Turkish, Greek and Ukrainian versions of the leaflets will be available to download as a pdf from the screening website shortly. Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese, French and Farsi will be available in the same format by summer.

Susan Stedman, Account Manager from Talking Pages said: "When appointed by the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes to record their new leaflets, our expertise in recording and duplication meant that many women who might otherwise miss out on this vital information will now be able to assess the facts in the privacy of their own homes."

All women who are eligible for screening will be able to obtain a copy of the English audio tape and Braille version of 'Breast Screening - THE FACTS' from their local Breast Screening Unit or GP surgery, while women who require a copy of 'Cervical Screening - THE FACTS' will be able to request a copy of the leaflet in Braille or audio tape by contacting the Department of Health publication orderline.

Copies of NHS Cancer Screening Programme publications are normally free of charge for staff working within the NHS, the voluntary sector and for healthcare students.

To obtain details of prices and availability of publications to those outside the NHS, please contact the Department of Health publication orderline: Telephone: 0300 123 1002, Textphone: 0300 123 1003.

Publication orders can be placed via the Department of Health publications website. Go to http://www.orderline.dh.gov.uk. You need to be a registered customer to place orders. You can register via the orderline website (as above) or call 01300 123 1002 to set up an account.

Orders can also be placed by telephone on 0300 123 1002 (no account required).

The translated versions of the leaflets are also available from Health Promotion England and can be downloaded from the screening programme's website; Cervical Screening: The Facts and Breast Screening The Facts.

Julietta Patnick, National Coordinator of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes said: "While the screening programmes always do their very best for women, there are no guarantees that screening is 100 per cent effective. All women need to understand this to help them make a decision. We are confident screening is saving lives, and so we strongly encourage women to attend for their smears and mammograms."

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