13 October 2022

Breast Cancer Now is calling for the Faster Diagnosis Standard to be a symbol of recovery, as the charity warns of too many missed opportunities to diagnose breast cancer as fast and as early as possible.

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

“It’s crucial that people referred by their GP with possible symptoms of breast cancer – nearly 750,000 people in England between July 21 and August 22 – have their worries alleviated promptly, or, if it is breast cancer, receive a swift diagnosis, as the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed the better the chances of treatment being successful, and lives potentially being saved.

“Yet in the first quarter of 22/23, only 70% of people with suspected breast cancer were seen by a specialist within two weeks of GP referral – 8,803 fewer people compared with the first quarter of 2018/19. Of equal concern, was the 7-fold increase in breast cancer patients starting treatment after 104 days between these periods.

“But despite this, the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) is continually met or surpassed for breast referrals. Around 95% of referrals do not result in a breast cancer diagnosis, meaning not one breast cancer case needs to be confirmed within 28 days for the FDS 75% target to be met – the FDS target is denying women the gold standard they deserve, and lacks any incentive to improve breast cancer waiting times.

“The Government must acknowledge the perilous situation impacting breast cancer diagnosis and urgently commit to addressing the systemic issues behind this.

“The ambition for breast cancer must be raised. Today, alongside a cross-party group of MPs, Breast Cancer Now is urgently calling for the Faster Diagnosis Standard target to be raised to 95%, ahead of the two-week wait being removed from legislation.”

ENDS