Cambridge Breast Unit radiographers advance with Macmillan backing


Women visiting the Cambridge Breast Unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital will benefit from reduced waiting times and an improved service thanks to funding from Macmillan Cancer Support to give advanced practice training to two radiographers.


This is the first time that Macmillan has supported staff in the diagnostic part of the cancer pathway and recognises the growing need for advanced practitioner radiographers, a demand accelerated by a national shortage of specialist breast radiologists.

Once they complete their advanced practice training, the two radiographers, Liana Hough and Michelle Boyce, will be able to carry out many of the roles of a radiologist, from reporting images, breast ultrasounds through to interventions such as biopsies. Macmillan are also funding a full-time mammographer to cover Liana and Michelle while they are studying during their two-year training course.

The Cambridge Breast Unit sees approximately 6,000 GP-referred patients a year and screens approximately 22,000 women annually. An average of 4,410 breast ultrasound examinations are undertaken a year, judged on figures taken from the last three years.   

Since the beginning of last year there has been a 20 per cent increase in activity, largely due to a government-backed campaign to make women over 70 more breast aware, and those numbers have been maintained, creating a need for extra clinics.

The Cambridge Breast Unit is currently fundraising for a third ultrasound machine to help with the demand in clinics. With the additional scanner and the advanced practitioners in place, it will mean that women will be seen earlier in clinic and some women who need additional  procedures will be able to have these performed on the same day as the scan.

Kathryn Taylor, the consultant radiographer at the Cambridge Breast Unit who successfully made the bid to Macmillan, said:  “We are thankful to Macmillan for extending their support to the diagnostic end of the patient pathway within the Cambridge Breast Unit.

“We are seeing increased activity through our department, which has meant redefining how our clinics work. Training radiographers in advanced practice will enable us to do this which in turn will improve reduce patient waits and improve their experience with us’

“In terms of our professional recruitment and retention, we need to be able to offer radiographers such as Liana and Michelle the opportunities to expand their roles.”

Carol Holloway, associate development manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, commented:   “Investing in diagnosis, and the staff who do this, is a new approach and we are really excited by it.

“With rising demand, new technology and shortages in staff, we are keen to support the NHS in new ways of working.

“The Cambridge Breast Unit are strong advocates of what we at Macmillan call the recovery package, which is part of something called the national cancer survivorship initiative, and supporting these radiographers will mean that patients have a joined-up package of care through their treatment.”

Liana, who comes from South Africa and has been in the UK for a year and a half, said:  “It’s a huge privilege for us to work in the Breast Unit and to get this funding from Macmillan to better ourselves and to offer a better service for patients.”

Michelle said:  “It’s very exciting. I came here straight from being a student radiographer, as I knew this is what I wanted to do. I’m going to be taking on doing X-ray biopsies which I’ve been assisting with but now I’ll have more of a role in doing that.

Image: Mary Hunt, deputy superintendent radiographer; Carol Holloway, associate development manager at Macmillan Cancer Support; Michelle Boyce; Liana Hough; and Kathryn Taylor, consultant radiographer

About Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH)

Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) is one of the largest and best known hospitals in the country. As well as delivering care through Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie, it is also:

  • a leading national centre for specialist treatment for rare or complex conditions
  • a government-designated biomedical research centre
  • one of only five academic health science centres in the UK
  • a university teaching hospital with a worldwide reputation
  • a partner in the development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus

CUH’s vision is to be one of the best academic healthcare organisations in the world.

About Macmillan Cancer Support

When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.

That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.

To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit


Mark Dwyer| Communications Officer
Tel: 01223 586730 | Ext: 6730   
Mobile: 07870 350251


Cambridge University Hospitals is one of the largest and best known trusts in the country. As the local hospital for our community we deliver care through Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust