Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and influencing at Breast Cancer Now, said:
"We’ve long advocated for a focus on reducing wait times for a breast cancer diagnosis, and today’s commitment by NHS England to raise the target for the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) - so that in the longer term 80% of people referred with potential symptoms of all cancers will have a cancer diagnosis confirmed or ruled out within 28 days - is a step in the right direction.
"We also welcome the expectation that, for people referred with possible symptoms of breast cancer, hospital trusts should go above and beyond this, so that over 90% have a breast cancer diagnosis confirmed or ruled out within 28 days. But we must not lose sight of the fact that more still needs to be done to ensure anyone with breast cancer gets diagnosed and starts treatment as quickly as possible.
"Having a target of less than 100% means some patients will wait longer - we remain deeply concerned that people who are diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to fall into this group and wait longer than 28 days to be diagnosed. We will continue to monitor this performance gap as it’s vital that the FDS meets the needs of people with breast cancer.
"In order to ensure that people are diagnosed and start treatment as soon as possible, NHS England must urgently set out plans as to how they will invest in the diagnostic workforce. Only then will breast cancer patients get the gold standard of care that they deserve."