10 February 2022

Mia Rosenblatt, Associate Director of Policy, Evidence and Influencing at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“That half of women in England with potential breast cancer symptoms were not seen by a specialist within two weeks of referral in December is deeply concerning. This latest data is made all the more alarming because it shows that despite a drop in the number of overall referrals since November, the system still clearly struggled to cope.

“With 8,870* women still living with undiagnosed breast cancer, the government’s commitment to address the shortfall of patients starting cancer treatment by March 2022 now looks a far cry from reality.

“We must remember that behind these stark figures are thousands of women and their loved ones enduring unimaginable distress and concern due to these delays – our Helpline has been inundated with calls from women scared about what these waits could mean for them.

“No more time can pass before the Government urgently invests in a strategic, fully funded long-term plan that addresses the influx in demand for breast cancer services, putting an end to these agonising delays and ensuring all breast cancer diagnoses are prompt and treatment is timely.

“Anyone seeking information and support can speak to our expert nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”



*The number of people starting their first treatment for breast cancer under the 31 day wait from decision to treat between March 2020 and December 2021 (compared to data from the same months in 2019/20) in England. Calculated using Monthly Provider Based Data and Summaries, Cancer Waiting Times, NHS England.