29 March 2021

Responding to a new study into the treatment of early breast cancer in the UK, between March and May 2020, led by the University of Manchester and published in The British Journal of Cancer, Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been disrupting breast cancer treatment for over a year, leaving women anxious about what this could mean for them. This important research studying the initial months of the pandemic (March – May 2020) offers some reassurance to those with early-stage breast cancer that most treatment changes during this time were in line with pre-COVID guidance, and are unlikely to adversely impact their chances of survival.

“Crucially, the NHS responded to this unprecedented situation by putting new research into practice to adapt treatments quickly and safely - the vital update for breast cancer being the introduction of shorter courses of radiotherapy – an approach that must continue going forwards. However, one area impacted by the pandemic is breast reconstruction, and its suspension has left many women facing lengthy, upsetting delays, as they form part of a growing backlog.

“We also estimate that almost 11,000 people in the UK could be living with undiagnosed breast cancer due to the pandemic, meaning our already over-stretched workforce is at serious risk of becoming overwhelmed in coming years. This is why we’re calling on UK Governments to urgently tackle the cancer workforce crisis. This will ensure women have the best chance of an early breast cancer diagnosis, which gives treatment the best chance of success and can ultimately prevent women dying from the disease.

“It’s so important that women contact their GP if they find any new or unusual breast changes, and continue to attend breast screening appointments when invited. While most breast changes won’t be cancer, on the occasions it is, early diagnosis increases the chance of successful treatment. Anyone seeking information and support can speak to our expert nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

About Breast Cancer Now

  • Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s first comprehensive breast cancer charity, combining world-class research and life-changing care.
  • Breast Cancer Now’s ambition is that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live and be supported to live well.
  • Breast Cancer Now, the research and care charity, launched in October 2019, created by the merger of specialist support and information charity Breast Cancer Care and leading research charity Breast Cancer Now.
  • Visit breastcancernow.org or follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.
  • Anyone looking for support or information can call Breast Cancer Now’s free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.