Breast cancer screening scandal: 100s of women may have died

03 May, 2018, 20:23 | Author: Cecil Davis
  • Consultant examines mammogram images for signs of breast cancer

Yesterday Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said a "computer algorithm failure" dating back to 2009 had meant many women aged 68 to 71 in England were not invited to their final routine screening.

Mr Hunt said "administrative incompetence" meant some families may have lost, or be about to lose, a loved one to cancer.

Of course, all these statistical statements about life expectancy are about large groups of people and may sound rather cold.

There is a complex story behind these headlines, but there is no doubting that Hunt needed to make a strong apology: there was a policy to offer women this screening choice and 450,000 were denied it by a mistake.

Baroness Morgan, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said the failure to notify so many women about their screenings was unacceptable.

Mr Gough said following her diagnosis Trixie underwent an operation, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and then scans every three months during which her cancer was under control.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Britain, with more than 55,000 women diagnosed every year and almost 1,000 dying of the disease every month, according to non-governmental organisation Breast Cancer Now.

Breast cancer charities say they have also been inundated by calls.

It might be worth pointing out that these women (or their doctors) would never know this - they would forever be grateful, thinking that their lives had been saved by the harrowing treatment process.

"She was taken to soon - a victim perhaps of other's failings".

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The grandmother and mother-of-four from Bushey, Hertfordshire told the Telegraph: "I feel so disappointed".

"I would like an explanation from somebody why this happened, why I didn't get a recall".

She said: "You can never say it could have been prevented but I really think if I had had a mammogram when I was 70, (the cancer) may have been picked up". They obviously knew about it for some time and they shouldn't have covered it up for so long. "I worked for the National Health Service all my life, I was a nurse".

Of the half a million women who should have been invited to a scan, an estimated 309,000 are still alive.

Hunt told lawmakers that all of the women who should have received a screening will get a letter by the end of May, urging them to come in for an appointment.

Women aged under 72 will be asked to have a catch-up screening and older women will be directed to a helpline to help them to decide whether to have screening.

A helpline has been set up for anyone who is concerned that they might have been among those missed - 0800 169 2692.

"I look back now and think everything that happened since could possibly have been avoided or lessened", Ms Minchin told the BBC. It affects all of us.

"We wouldn't want any lives to be shortened".

A recent report on the NHS found that the number of women who accepted invitations to breast screenings had fallen to 71%, a 10-year low.


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