Breast cancer south London: Thousands miss screenings

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaches this October, experts are urging women across the UK to check for signs and symptoms of the disease and for those eligible to take up their invitations for routine screenings.

The NHS breast screening programme sees women aged between 50 and 71 invited every three years to undergo a mammogram (X-ray) designed to detect cancers that are too small to see or feel.

Bexley

Thousands of women missed potentially life-saving breast screening appointments in Bexley in the year leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

The latest available NHS Digital figures show that 78% of eligible women in Bexley attended routine screenings between April 2019 and March 2020 – meaning roughly 5,712 were not up to date with their checks.

That proportion was in line with the year before.

It meant health services in the area achieved the national minimum target of 70% uptake but fell short of the 80% the NHS says all services should aim for.

The most recent PHE figures at local authority level, which span a three-year period, show there were 52 breast cancer deaths in Bexley women aged up to 75 between 2017 and 2019 – equating to 16 in every 100,000 women in the age group.

Bromley

Thousands of women missed potentially life-saving breast screening appointments in Bromley in the year leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

The latest available NHS Digital figures show that 77% of eligible women in Bromley attended routine screenings between April 2019 and March 2020 – meaning roughly 8,142 were not up to date with their checks.

That proportion was in line with the year before.

It meant health services in the area achieved the national minimum target of 70% uptake but fell short of the 80% the NHS says all services should aim for.

The most recent PHE figures at local authority level, which span a three-year period, show there were 84 breast cancer deaths in Bromley women aged up to 75 between 2017 and 2019 – equating to 19 in every 100,000 women in the age group.

Greenwich

Thousands of women missed potentially life-saving breast screening appointments in Greenwich in the year leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

The latest available NHS Digital figures show that just 66% of eligible women in Greenwich attended routine screenings between April 2019 and March 2020 – meaning roughly 8,235 were not up to date with their checks.

That proportion was down from 69% the year before.

It meant health services in the area missed the national minimum target of 70% uptake.

The most recent PHE figures at local authority level, which span a three-year period, show there were 77 breast cancer deaths in Greenwich women aged up to 75 between 2017 and 2019 – equating to 26 in every 100,000 women in the age group.

Lewisham

Thousands of women missed potentially life-saving breast screening appointments in Lewisham in the year leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

The latest available NHS Digital figures show that just 66% of eligible women in Lewisham attended routine screenings between April 2019 and March 2020 – meaning roughly 9,257 were not up to date with their checks.

That proportion was down from 69% the year before.

It meant health services in the area missed the national minimum target of 70% uptake.

The most recent PHE figures at local authority level, which span a three-year period, show there were 70 breast cancer deaths in Lewisham women aged up to 75 between 2017 and 2019 – equating to 22 in every 100,000 women in the age group.

General:

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Now, said a decline in screening uptake across the UK in recent years was already a “concern” prior to the pandemic, adding the charity estimates 1.2 million fewer women had a screening in 2020 due to coronavirus-related disruption.

She said: “We must do all we can to increase the number of women taking up their invitation to breast screening, including text reminders, more convenient appointments and improving awareness of the programme.”

“While screening comes with some risks to be aware of, we encourage women to attend their appointments when invited, including during the pandemic.”

Baroness Morgan joined the NHS and Public Health England in urging women to seek medical advice if they notice any abnormal changes in their breasts.

Professor Anne Mackie, director of screening at PHE, added: “Finding cancer early means that treatment is more likely to be successful.

“While screening is a personal choice, we are analysing the barriers that deter some groups of women.”

Breast screening is estimated to save 1,300 lives across England each year, but just 69% of women offered a screening nationally in 2019-20 took up the offer, compared to 71% the year before.

Different figures show in the same year, roughly 9,500 women across England died from breast cancer and more than 17,700 women aged 45 or over had the cancer detected.

The most recent PHE figures at local authority level, which span a three-year period, show there were 52 breast cancer deaths in Bexley women aged up to 75 between 2017 and 2019 – equating to 16 in every 100,000 women in the age group.

With locally targeted interventions and the implementation of the PHE Screening Inequalities Strategy, the Government is currently working to ensure screening uptake is equal across the country.

An NHS spokeswoman said the health service is open, adding it is “vital” that people attend their breast screening when invited.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesman said it was providing record investment in an effort to tackle backlogs influenced by the pandemic and provide an extra nine million checks, scans and operations.

He added: “Most cancer services are back to or above pre-pandemic levels and nearly half a million people were checked for cancer in June and July, some of the highest numbers ever.”

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.

Bristol – Metro