Professor Sir Mike Richards has today launched a major review of national cancer screening programmes as part of “a renewed drive to improve care and save lives”, NHS England has announced.
Sir Mike, who was the NHS’ first cancer director and is the former CQC chief inspector of hospitals, is leading a review team to assess current screening programmes and recommend how they should be organised, developed and improved to ensure that they remain world-leading and that patients benefit from new technologies and treatments.
As part of his work, NHS England said Sir Mike wants to hear views and ideas from staff, patients and other groups to inform recommendations for the future of cancer screening.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
This landmark review represents a vital opportunity to ensure our screening programmes are fit for the future and able to harness research progress to detect more cancers earlier.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme remains absolutely critical to early diagnosis in this country, preventing 1,300 deaths from breast cancer each year – and we need to do everything we can to make the most of it, including by improving attendance.
We hope the review will address the urgent challenges facing the breast screening workforce and begin to lead us towards a new era of more personalised screening as the evidence emerges. With a major trial showing that screening can detect cancers earlier in young women with a family history of breast cancer, we hope the review will include an assessment of family history services and set out the further evidence needed to consider extending screening to women aged 35-39 at moderate or high risk of the disease.
More women are being diagnosed with breast cancer than ever before, and, with the workforce at crisis capacity, we also urgently need to invest in recruiting and training new experts, and in new technology, to enable services to cope with increasing demand over the next decade.
We very much look forward to working with Professor Sir Mike Richards in the coming months to feed into the review, and hope its crucial findings will be matched with the resource required to deliver transformative change for hundreds of thousands of women and men at risk of cancer.