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This month, the Breast Cancer Now team held an event in Parliament to launch our latest campaign, #NoTimeToWaste, which is focused on improving early and rapid diagnosis of breast cancer.
We believe that right now we are missing too many opportunities to diagnose breast cancer as fast and as early as we can. #NoTimeToWaste is about these two important aspects of breast cancer diagnosis:
Patients deserve to be seen by a specialist and have cancer diagnosed or ruled out as quickly as possible. Long waits for diagnosis lead to greater stress and anxiety, and risk delaying people with breast cancer starting treatment.
Breast cancers that are detected at stage 1 and 2 are more likely to be treated successfully and have the highest survival rates. Breast screening is key to increasing early diagnosis as over 90% of breast cancers detected through screening are found early.
The Government has proposed a new measure for how long it should take for someone to be diagnosed, aiming for 75% of people to have cancer ruled out or confirmed with 28 days of their referral. We have already set out why this represents a step back for breast cancer, and are now asking the Government to raise this target to 95%.
Our estimates suggest that, as of April, there are over 8,000 people in England living with undiagnosed breast cancer largely due to the disruption to breast screening caused by COVID. We want the Government to set out how it will address the screening shortfall and improve screening uptake to find the patients that are still missing.
Our drop in event was held in the House of Commons and was attended by over 80 MPs from all political parties. We gave each member information on how their local area was performing on cancer waiting times and breast screening attendance, and discussed our concerns about the Government’s plans for breast cancer diagnosis.
Sally and Jane, two of the amazing nurses who help run our helpline were also on hand to share their own experiences supporting people affected by breast cancer and what patients are going through when waiting for a breast cancer diagnosis.
We asked all the MPs who came to our event to sign our letter to the Health Secretary, or write to him directly, asking him to raise the Government’s new diagnosis target to 95%, and to write to their local Cancer Alliance about how the breast screening programme is doing in their area.
Since the event, almost 30 MPs from across the political spectrum have agreed to back our campaign so far, and we’re grateful to them and all our Breast Cancer Now parliamentary ambassadors for their support.
There are a couple of things you can do to support our campaign to improve breast cancer diagnosis:
Contact your MP – We’ve prepared an email template for you to send to your MP asking them to join us in urging the Health Secretary to raise the diagnosis target. It only takes 30 seconds and could make a real difference, as more MPs signing the letter will mean more pressure on the Government to increase their ambitions.
Recruit your friends – We need to get as many people as possible to support our campaign and email their MPs. Sharing the #NoTimeToWaste campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and asking your friends and family to get involved can really make a difference!
Share your story – Everything we do is designed to help people affected by breast cancer, and we know the impact that long waiting times or getting an unexpected diagnosis through screening can have.
If you have a personal story about the experience of being diagnosed that you would be happy to share as part of this campaign, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.