One million women have missed breast cancer screening because of the lockdown.
The huge backlog means the deadly disease may not have been detected in around 8,600 of them.
The Breast Cancer Now charity estimates that 986,000 patients are awaiting life-saving mammograms because screening was halted when the pandemic struck.
Early diagnosis dramatically improves the chances of survival, and doctors have warned that delays mean healthy, young women “will die needlessly.”
One million women have missed breast cancer screening because of the lockdown. The huge backlog means the deadly disease may not have been detected in around 8,600 of them. Library image
The screening program, which prevents around 1,300 deaths and detects 19,000 cases a year, was suspended for four months in March.
Today’s shocking figures highlight the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on millions of patients with diseases other than Covid-19.
“The mammogram saved my life,” says Karen King, mother of two
Having a mammogram saved Karen King’s life.
Karen King, 49, says mammogram saved her life
The 49-year-old “thanks her lucky stars” every day for the screening program, who contracted breast cancer last year before she had symptoms.
But the Southampton mother-of-two, pictured, now fears for the thousands of women potentially in her place.
“I am really concerned about the backlog of women waiting for routine mammograms caused by the pandemic,” she said.
“I understand why the screening had to be canceled but I know this will have caused a lot of concern for many women who may still be waiting for it to be postponed and I also don’t know if my annual mammogram will be affected. when it’s due in December.
“I honestly believe the screening and my surgeon saved my life finding my breast cancer when I had no symptoms. I’m so lucky we have this program.
The Daily Mail highlighted official data showing nearly 75,000 lives could be lost due to the unintended consequences of the lockdown, including delays in cancer treatment.
This will increase pressure on Boris Johnson to withhold a second lockdown, with activists stressing that cancer care “cannot afford to be suspended again.”
Experts have warned the NHS has a “huge mountain to climb” in clearing the backlog of screening.
Breast x-rays, an essential tool for early detection of breast cancer, are offered to women aged 50 to 71 every three years.
Although NHS screening has now resumed, many clinics have had to reduce the number of appointments due to social distancing and infection control.
The NHS also faces a desperate shortage of diagnostic staff to perform the checks – a quarter of health trusts have vacant breast radiologist positions.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Managing Director of Breast Cancer Now, said: “The fact that nearly one million women across the UK have been caught in the backlog awaiting breast cancer screening is very concerning, as we know that approximately 8,600 of these women could have lived with undetected breast cancer.
“Mammograms are a key tool in the early detection of breast cancer, which is essential in preventing women from dying from the disease. We cannot afford to suspend the program again.
Around 55,000 cases of breast cancer are detected each year in the UK, causing 11,500 deaths.
Nine in ten women diagnosed at the earliest stage live at least five years, compared to just 15% of those diagnosed at the most advanced stage.
Between March and July, some 107,000 fewer women were referred to a specialist with suspected cases of breast cancer compared to the same period last year.
Hundreds of thousands of cancer patients have undergone life-saving scans, tests, surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy delayed or canceled as a result of Covid-19.
Breast x-rays, an essential tool for early detection of breast cancer, are offered to women aged 50 to 71 every three years. Library image
Some of these procedures are said to have saved or prolonged lives, giving cancer patients valuable extra time.
Yesterday, leaked data obtained by the Health Service Journal found more than 6,000 NHS patients were waiting more than 100 days after being referred to cancer services.
The number on the cancer waiting list has dropped from 50,000 in early August to about 58,000 in mid-September.
Mary Wilson, Consultant Breast Radiologist and National Breast Imaging Academy Project Leader, said: “Not only maintaining pre-pandemic activity levels, but also making a huge catch-up with inadequate manpower levels is a huge mountain to climb. We desperately need more radiologists.
“A long-term investment plan is essential.”
Karol Sikora, a consultant oncologist at the University of Buckingham, said: “Young, otherwise healthy women will unfortunately die needlessly because of these delays. We’re shutting down the country for Covid – where is the government’s urgency on this?
A spokesperson for the NHS in England said: “The vast majority of cancers detected through screening programs are at a very early stage and therefore any impact on patients who were to be screened is extremely small.
“Over 200,000 people were treated for cancer at the height of the pandemic, breast cancer screening services are now fully operational.
People over 70 are wrongly refused breast cancer surgery: Thousands of elderly patients do not undergo operations or chemotherapy because they think they are too fragile to endure intensive treatment, reveals new study
By Eleanor Hayward Health Reporter for The Daily Mail
Thousands of older women with breast cancer are needlessly denied life-saving surgery, a study found.
Women over 70 may be overlooked for surgery or chemotherapy due to a mistaken belief that they are too fragile to withstand intensive treatment.
Instead, they are often given anti-estrogen hormone therapy tablets, a less aggressive treatment for breast cancer.
Thousands of older women with breast cancer are needlessly denied life-saving surgery, study found. Library image
60-year-old woman “blissfully unaware” of breast cancer when canceled mammogram on lockdown
Susan Daniels was “blissfully unaware” that she might have breast cancer when her mammogram was canceled when the lockdown began.
Susan Daniels’ mammogram was canceled when the lockdown began.
But two months later, she found a lump in her chest and was diagnosed with the disease in June.
Although she missed the screening, Ms Daniels believes she is one of the lucky ones because she was able to get a quick diagnosis after checking her breasts.
The 60-year-old has now undergone surgery and is expected to start radiation therapy soon.
She said: “I always attended my breast cancer screening when I was invited and so when we moved to a new area I called in March to arrange the appointment I was due. .
“When I was told that testing was suspended due to the pandemic and that I would receive an invitation at some point in the future, it was disappointing but I realized that COVID-19 was making everything difficult. At that time, I had no idea that I could have breast cancer.
The quality manager for Glynneath, Wales said: “When I was told I had breast cancer it was both devastating and surreal.
“In my opinion, screening is vital for early detection, as is self-monitoring. I can’t even begin to know the distress experienced by anyone who is still waiting for a date.
But research has shown that surgery is appropriate for almost all older women, which is more effective and can extend their life for years.
Of the 55,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year in the UK, nearly 19,000 are over 70 years old.
Older women are more likely to die from the disease than younger ones, but experts say they should be offered surgery to “close the age gap in survival rates.”
Researchers at the University of Sheffield looked at 2,979 older women with breast cancer, of whom about one in five was treated with anti-estrogen tablets alone while the rest had surgery.
The tablet-only group was on average eight years older than the surgical group.
Over the next four years, 42% of the non-surgical group died from whatever cause, compared with 14% of the group who had surgery.
After adjusting the results for age, tumor stage and other diseases, the researchers, whose results were presented at the European Virtual Breast Cancer Conference, found that one woman in three treated with pills die, compared with only one in four who have surgery.
There were also no deaths attributable to the surgery, and complications, including heart attacks and strokes, were rare.
Lead author Professor Lynda Wyld said: “For most women, surgery is well tolerated and should be the goal of treatment if possible, as we have shown that surgery is generally well tolerated and survival rates are slightly lower in women who do not have surgery. ‘
But she added that the surgery is not suitable for everyone, especially women who already have health issues.
She said, “When we looked at the two treatments in a group of less fit older women, these differences in breast cancer survival disappeared.
“These results suggest that for older, less fit, and more fragile women with hormone-positive breast cancer, hormone therapy alone is likely to be as effective as surgery if their life expectancy is less than. four to five years. “
Dr Kotryna Temcinaite, Breast Cancer Now, said: “This valuable research could lead to a new way to assess treatment options for older women that ensure they are receiving the treatment that is best for them, taking consider not only their age, but also their level of fitness and personal preferences regarding treatment.
“Above all, all women with breast cancer, regardless of age, should be given the opportunity to discuss all available treatments with their clinical team so that treatment decisions are tailored to what is best for them. each individual.