Great Britain

Nearly 1million women ‘have missed out on breast screening during the coronavirus crisis’

NEARLY a million women have missed out on breast screening during the Covid crisis – leaving almost 9,000 cancers undetected, charities claim.

Campaigners warn lives will be lost after the “lifesaving” programme was paused in March.

The backlog will also pile further pressure on already over-stretched NHS services as more cases are diagnosed late.

Breast Cancer Now, which carried out the analysis, called on ministers to plough in extra cash to deal with delays.

NHS tumour screening has only now started to resume due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity estimates 986,000 women across the UK missed out on mammograms as a result - 838,000 in England, 78,000 in Scotland, 48,000 in Wales and 23,000 in Northern Ireland.

It also calculates 8,655 tumours have now gone undetected.

But health bosses claim the vast majority of cancers detected through screening are early stage - so a six-month delay will have only a small impact on outcomes.

'GRAVE CONCERN'

Baroness Delyth Morgan, BCN chief executive, said: “That nearly one million women across the UK were caught up in the backlog waiting for breast screening is cause for grave concern as we know that around 8,600 of these women could have been living with undetected breast cancer.

“Mammograms are a key tool in the early detection of breast cancer, which is critical to stopping women dying from the disease.”

It comes as leaked data shows nearly 6,400 people referred to cancer services faced delays of more than three months, according to the Health Service Journal.

It includes 472 patients waiting more than 104 days to start cancer treatment.

A separate report from Cancer Research UK found poorer Brits are at much greater risk of the disease.

The charity estimates 20,000 fewer people would be diagnosed with cancer annually, if all areas had the same rates as the most well off.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "For most cancer types, people from poorer areas have worse survival.

"Government must work harder to prevent cancer, and improve people's chances of surviving, no matter their postcode.”

Services are resuming and the NHS insisted: “Any impact on patients due to be screened is extremely low.”

Loose Women's Carol McGiffin devastated for Sarah Harding as she battles breast cancer just like she did

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