Breast Cancer Now comments on the updated and redesigned guideline released today (Tuesday 23 June) from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to support GPs and other primary care professionals to recognise the signs and symptoms of cancer and refer people for the right tests faster.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Breast Cancer Now’s Chief Executive, said:
“We welcome these updated guidelines giving GPs greater clarity on when they should refer patients for further tests. However, we’re seriously concerned about the severe impact this update could have on a small number of people who’ll now be at risk of slipping through the net if their breast cancer goes undiagnosed.
"We appeal to GPs in England and Wales to continue encouraging people of any age to be breast aware, and to remain mindful of a person’s family and personal history of breast cancer when assessing their need for a referral.
“We have long been concerned by the lack of a non-urgent referral target in Wales and fear that, because of this, these guidelines make a bad situation worse. Now, a person under 30 who goes to their GP with an unexplained lump could wait for months before seeing a specialist, even if they have a family history of breast cancer, with potentially fatal consequences.
"Breast Cancer Now urges the Welsh Government to take action now to prevent the existing postcode lottery from worsening as a result of NICE updating these important guidelines. We’re looking to Health Minister Mark Drakeford to address this issue, and give people in Wales fairer access to care.”
Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, created by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. We believe that if we can detect breast cancer earlier, by 2050, everyone that develops the disease will live.