• The two-week wait for people referred with suspected breast cancer was missed. The target is 93%, but only 90.51% of patients were seen within two weeks in November 2018. This is a significant and worrying decline on October 2018, when 94.14% of patients were seen within two weeks.
  • The two-week wait for breast symptoms (where cancer not initially suspected) was also missed with 88.05% of patients being seen within two weeks. This is the ninth month in a row that this target has been missed. 
  • The two-week wait for suspected cancer for all cancers was also missed with 92.46% of patients being seen within two weeks, up slightly from 92.3% in October 2018.
  • The 31 day target (of 96% of patients starting their first treatment within 31 days of diagnosis) was met for both cancer overall (96.64%) and for breast cancer (98.08%).
  • The 62 day target (of 85% of patients starting treatment within 62 days of urgent GP referral) was met for breast cancer (92.02) and missed for cancer overall (79.19%).

Sally Greenbrook, Policy Manager at Breast Cancer Now, said:

It’s extremely concerning that the number of women being seen within two weeks following urgent referral for suspected breast cancer has fallen well below the target, following a sharp decline on the previous month.

It’s also really worrying to see that the two-week wait for women with breast symptoms where cancer isn’t initially suspected has been missed for the ninth month running – the most prolonged period of failure in almost a decade.

For women referred with a symptom of breast cancer, the wait for confirmation of either a diagnosis or the all-clear can be agonising.

The two-week wait is a fundamental principle of NHS breast cancer treatment and is so important to patients and those at risk. It’s vital that steps are taken to ensure it is met and maintained going forward. 

We now need NHS England to investigate why this target has been missed, and lay out clear plans to ensure this failure does not continue. It is also essential that local Trusts and CCGs who are missing these targets take action to improve their performance.