31 January 2022

Dr Simon Vincent, Director of Research, Support and Influencing at Breast Cancer Now, who hosted the UK Interdisciplinary Breast Cancer Symposium said:

“Every year 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. Early detection can stop women dying from breast cancer and the Screening Programme is a key tool in the early detection of the disease.

“We welcome research that looks at the potential of a more tailored approach to breast screening and we are currently funding studies to help us better understand the benefits and risks of a service based on a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. We urge The UK National Screening Committee to continue to review new evidence and recommend appropriate changes to the screening programme.

“While this is an important discussion, key issues face the NHS breast screening service today. In October, we estimated that nearly 1.5 million fewer women had vital breast screening between March 2020 and May 2021, as a result of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This worrying statistic demonstrates how urgently Governments across the UK must invest in a strategic, fully funded long-term plan for the chronically understaffed imaging and diagnostic workforce, to ensure breast screening services are fit for today and the future. In the worst cases, delayed diagnoses could mean that some women die of this devastating disease, and we must ensure that women with undiagnosed breast cancer are quickly identified and treated, giving them the best chance of survival.”