Breast cancer screening scandal: 100s of women may have died

Lynette PayneMay 04, 2018

The "serious failure" in the code governing the NHS's national breast screening programme occurred in 2009, but only came to light when Public Health England (PHE) analysed the service earlier this year.

Jeremy Hunt, speaking in the Commons yesterday, stated that an estimated 450,000 women between ages 68 and 71 did not receive invitations to the screening due to a computer algorithm error since 2009.

It's a "colossal system failure", she said. "The women contacting us are feeling angry, confused and want answers". Such results may affect individuals' willingness to continue screening for cancer in the future, causing them to be either more diligent or more reluctant about getting screened. Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News App " Many families will be deeply disturbed by these revelations", he acknowledged, adding that the glitch meant some breast cancers were only diagnosed at a later stage when the disease might have been harder to treat. "Our expert nurses are here for anyone with questions or concerns on 0808 800 6000".

The most recent figures show there were 2,786 breast cancer cases in 2015 in Wales. Helen fears she may have been one of those overlooked by the screening programme.

Call the breast screening helpline number 0800 169 2692 for more information, or visit the NHS Choices website. They found that two years after a diagnosis with breast cancer, 58 percent of black women reported a negative financial impact of cancer, compared with 39 percent of white women. The cancer has also spread to other parts of her body.

"I look back now and think everything that happened since could possibly have been avoided, or lessened the whole journey I went on, the traumatic journey of all the treatment may never have had to happen". It is hard to imagine what some of the worst affected families will be going through over the next few weeks.

"I would like an explanation from somebody why this happened, why I didn't get a recall".

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, apologised for women's lives being cut short by "administrative incompetence", but said that some women affected would have to wait until the end of October for catch-up checks to avoid disrupting routine screening for those aged between 50 and 70. Hunt stated that of the 450,000 women that were not invited back for another screening, only 309,000 are assumed to still be alive.

It is thought that an IT error made in 2009 is responsible for the situation that, it is now estimated, led to the death of 270 women.

He said early investigations into the scandal suggested hundreds of women may have developed cancer after missing life-saving scans.

The issue was first raised by PHE to the Department of Health and Social Care but was not "escalated to ministers" until March, Hunt said, "with clear clinical advice that the matter should not be made public".

All of the women had been enrolled in the AgeX NHS trial, which aims to find out whether older women benefit from having extra breast cancer screening.

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