The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published an update to their quality standard for breast cancer treatment and care.

Thursday 16 June 2016      General

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today (Thursday 16 June 2016) published an update to their quality standard for breast cancer treatment and care, calling for steps to be taken to ensure breast cancer is diagnosed quickly so that people can get prompt treatment.

The update sees the standard shortened from thirteen statements down to six. There are some particularly encouraging statements included – such as commitments to ensuring all patients with suspected breast cancer are offered a triple diagnostic assessment in a single hospital visit, to reassessing the hormone status of tumours when a patient’s cancer returns and spreads, and to finally meeting the needs of those living with secondary breast cancer – but some important promises have also been removed for breast cancer treatment, such as a commitment to age equality.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“If enacted, NICE’s new quality standard will be a positive step towards better treatment and care for breast cancer patients.

“Ensuring we reassess a patient’s hormone status when their cancer returns and spreads is absolutely the right thing to do. Similarly, it’s really encouraging that the unique needs of women diagnosed with secondary breast cancer are to be recognised as a national priority.

“But we are concerned by the absence of a commitment to age equality. While this is pledged as a general principle of NICE, it’s a promise that is not currently the reality for many older women with breast cancer and much more needs to be done to guarantee more consistent access to treatment.

“What we really need now is action, to ensure that these standards are implemented effectively and monitored across the country.”

On the 'three examinations in a single day' promise in Statement 1, Delyth Morgan said:

“Ensuring all patients with suspected breast cancer have access to a ‘one-stop’ clinic would represent major progress. But this promise has been in guidelines for many years and questions must be asked about why hospitals haven’t been able to deliver this for all patients to date.

“These steps would reduce the number of hospital visits for patients, amid a difficult wait for a confirmed diagnosis. But patients must be reassured that whether their tests occur in one day or over the course of a week, it would not have an impact on their treatment outcomes.”

More information

Read more at the Daily Mail online and The Telegraph