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Breast cancer missed in hundreds of women due to covid cancellations

Hundreds of women with breast cancer in London were not picked up by routine screening as services closed during the lockdown, officials have estimated.

Data from NHS England and Improvement’s London office said it expected 450 people to have breast cancer and have gone undiagnosed because of the heavily reduced amount of screening at the height of the outbreak. It was included in a letter from officials to local health system leaders, seen by HSJ.

It said the figure was an estimate based on the 115,000 routine breast screenings that would have taken place between late March and the end of June and which had to be re-scheduled.

London represents around 15% of England’s population, so a nationwide estimate would run into thousands. 

Responding to the figures, Breast Cancer Now chief executive Baroness Delyth Morgan said: ”While it’s encouraging that the breast screening programme in London is now back up and running, we are concerned to hear of the hundreds of potential delayed cancer diagnoses as a result of disruption due to the pandemic. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the more likely treatment is to be successful."

“With over a hundred thousand people missing out on vital breast screening during the pandemic in London alone, we urge the government to ensure there is sufficient capacity in the already-stretched workforce to meet the huge backlog and to avoid any cancers going undetected for longer.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 9 September 2020


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