24 September 2021

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

“These alarming estimates lay bare just how urgently investment in equipment, and crucially in NHS staffing, is needed to avoid a devastating decade of further disruption to cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“Between the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and May 2021, around 10,000 fewer women in England were diagnosed and started treatment for breast cancer. Finding and treating these women must be an absolute priority. We estimate that increasing treatment levels to 10% above pre-pandemic levels would mean it would still take 16 months to clear this breast cancer treatment backlog alone – the tragic reality is that in the worst cases some women could die as a result of these delays.

“Women with breast cancer have already been paying the price of disruptions caused by the pandemic for too long and some are being denied the best chance of survival; the government must act now by urgently investing in a strategic, fully funded long-term plan that tackles the staggering cancer workforce crisis so that women with breast cancer get a prompt diagnosis and start treatment as quickly as possible.

“During these times of disruption we continue to urge women to attend breast screening appointments when invited and to contact their GP if they find any new or unusual breast changes – while most changes won’t be cancer, on the occasions it is the sooner breast cancer is found the more successful treatment is likely to be. For information and support, speak to our expert nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”

ENDS