UK: 450000 women missed out on breast cancer test

03 May, 2018, 12:05 | Author: Eloise Houston
  • Jeremy Hunt to launch inquiry into 450000 missed breast cancer screenings

Breast cancer screenings are offered to all women between the ages of 50 and 70, but speaking in the House of Commons today (2 May), Hunt said a serious failure with the IT system led to a huge number of women in England, between the ages of 68 and 71, not being invited to their final screenings between 2009 and early 2018.

UP TO 270 women may have died of breast cancer because of a computer glitch that went unnoticed for nearly a decade, the health secretary admitted to MPs yesterday.

'GPs will be advised about this at the same time as patients, so if patients are anxious, we would encourage them not to contact their GP about this matter in the first instance but to contact the dedicated national helpline that has been set up - 0800 169 2692 - or to look on the NHS Choices website for more information'.

It was escalated to ministers in March by Public Health England (PHE), with the Government told the error should not be made public to ensure existing screening services were not overwhelmed.

The failings started in 2009 but were only discovered this January.

Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Care, said: Hundreds of thousands of women across England have been failed by this appalling error and some have had their lives shortened as a result.

Like many types of cancer, treatment varies depending on the aggressiveness and stage of the condition, as well as the patient's general health and if they're a woman, whether they have reached the menopause.

"We know this may leave many women with questions about breast screening".

Of the 450,000 women affected, 309,000 are still alive and in their 70s.

More news: Ascend Capital LLC Takes $20.80 Million Position in Merck & Co. (MRK)

Here, the Press Association answers questions about the breast cancer screening programme.

He added that there is likely to be some women within the overlooked group would still be alive today if this failure had not happened.

Those aged 72 and over will be given access to a helpline offering clinical advice about whether or not a screen is appropriate.

He said any woman who wanted a mammogram would get one within six months, and it was a priority to make sure additional scans did not cause any delays in the screening programme for other women. All women who missed scans will be invited for one.

He announced an independent review and apologised "wholeheartedly and unreservedly" to the women and their families. We have carried out urgent work to identify the problem and have fixed it.

He said: "Many families will be deeply disturbed by these revelations".

"We must also recognise that there may be some who receive a letter having had a recent terminal diagnosis".

She said: "It is beyond belief that this major mistake has been sustained for nearly a decade and we need to know why this has been allowed to happen".

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