Breast cancer fears after Covid-19 delays screening

Breast cancer fears after Covid-19 delays screening

Breast cancer fears after Covid-19 delays screening

Nearly one million women in the UK have missed potentially lifesaving NHS breast screening due to Covid-19, said a leading charity today (Wednesday).

Breast Cancer Now estimates that around 986,000 women missed their mammograms due to breast screening programmes being paused in March in a bid to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and to free up emergency resources for the NHS.

The charity anticipates that around 8,600 of the women caught up in this backlog could have been living with undetected breast cancer, with their diagnosis delayed due to the detrimental impact of Covid-19 on the NHS.

The warning comes on the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

While the breast screening programme is now starting up again, at different speeds across the country, availability of appointments has been significantly reduced due to measures to enable social distancing.

Combined with this, the significant backlog of women waiting for screening, and more women starting to come forward with concerns about possible breast cancer symptoms, will place huge pressure on the imaging and diagnostic workforce which was already over-stretched prior to the pandemic, claims Breast Cancer Now.

The charity is urgently calling on Governments and NHS bodies across the UK to set out how the anticipated influx in demand for imaging and diagnostics will be met. It is also calling on the UK Government to commit in its upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to investing in the NHS cancer workforce to ensure breast cancer cases are diagnosed as early as possible.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “We understand that the breast screening programme was paused out of necessity due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, but we must now press play to ensure that all women can access breast screening, and we cannot afford for the programme to be paused again.”

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