Tens of thousands of Notts women miss ‘vital’ breast cancer screenings

Tens of thousands of Nottinghamshire women were not up to date with potentially life-saving cancer checks last year, figures show.

By Joanna Morris
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 4:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 11:00 am

An ‘alarming’ drop in breast cancer screenings across England is a reminder of the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on cancer care and diagnosis, charities say.

NHS England figures show a 44 per cent fall in the number of women screened for the disease nationally in 2020-21, while the number who had cancers detected via screening fell by more than a third in the same period.

The screening programme sees women aged between 50 and 71 invited every three years to undergo a mammogram to detect cancers too small to see or feel.

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Almost 30,000 Nottinghamshire woman were not up to date with their breast screenings at the end of March 2021.

The data shows 71 per cent of eligible women in Nottinghamshire were up to date with their screenings at the end of March 2021, meaning roughly 28,650 were not and down from 81 per cent the year before.

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

An NHS Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group spokesman said: “Women are invited for NHS breast screening every three years between the ages of 50 and 71 and we urge everyone invited to take up the offer of this life-saving screening.

“Regular breast screening is one of the best ways to spot a cancer too small to feel or see and we know it saves about 1,300 lives each year in the UK. Y

“You will be contacted by letter and we encourage all eligible women in Nottinghamshire to take up the offer as it is the best way to spot cancers at an early stage.”

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‘Vital tool’

Nationally, 64 per cent of eligible women attended their last check, down from 74 per cent in 2019-20 and the lowest coverage rate on record.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Now, warned hundreds could die over the next decade due to the pandemic’s impact on screenings.

She said: “Screening uptake has hit its lowest point in history, despite NHS staff working tirelessly, in the toughest of circumstances, to restart and continue screening services.

“Breast screening is a vital tool for detecting breast cancer early and the sooner it’s diagnosed the more likely treatment is to be successful.”

Screenings were impacted by pandemic-related disruption and were paused between March and June 2020 to protect patients and staff from the virus, before resuming that summer.

Self-isolation and shielding is also believed to have had an impact on attendances.

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: “The NHS is now inviting more people than ever to be screened, while investing a further £70 million to support screening services, which we know saves thousands of lives, so it remains vital women come forward when they receive their invitation to do so.”

NHS Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group has been approached for comment.

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