15 February 2022

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

“It’s utterly devastating that an estimated up to 680 additional women could die from breast cancer over 10 years due to disruption to the breast screening programme caused by the pandemic.

“Breast screening is a vital tool for detecting breast cancer early, and we know the sooner it’s diagnosed the more likely treatment is to be successful. This is why Breast Cancer Now – having estimated that 1.2 million fewer women had breast screening in England between March 2020 and May 2021 – has relentlessly shone a spotlight on this backlog, calling for urgent government action.

“Our NHS staff have worked tirelessly to restart and continue delivering the breast screening programme. However, this research highlights the tragic consequences of the disruption caused by COVID-19 for breast cancer.

“With this research suggesting the actual number of additional deaths will depend on how quickly screening services can catch up, it’s now a matter of life or death that the government addresses this backlog as an immediate priority.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pressures on the imaging and diagnostic workforce that was already chronically under-resourced and overstretched pre-pandemic. It is vital that the government urgently boosts the cancer workforce alongside developing the much-needed long-term workforce plan with necessary investment.

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

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