Breast screen

£10m to turbocharge breast cancer diagnosis rates

The Government has pledged £10m to expedite cancer diagnoses for tens of thousands of women across the country, with 29 new NHS breast cancer screening units and almost 70 life-saving service upgrades set to be rolled out.

The investment will fund 16 new mobile breast screening units, 13 static units, as well as 58 live remote access upgrades for existing units, and 10 software updates.

The plan is for the additional screening to be carried out in areas where it is most needed to level out health disparities and increases diagnosis rates, overall contributing to more women being screened earlier to give them the best health outcome possible.

Steve Russell, NHS national director for screening and vaccinations, said: “Screening is vital in detecting breast cancer early and getting better outcomes for patients, and this further investment is great news for improving access to breast screening services for women across England.

“This funding will help increase screening rates amongst women from communities and regions where uptake is lowest by improving facilities in both fixed and mobile locations, making it easier for more women to get checked, and we encourage anyone invited for a screening to take up their appointment without delay and help us catch cancers earlier when they are easier to treat.”

The roll out matches the pledge in the Women’s Health Strategy that aimed to provide additional breast screening units; it also helps deliver on the commitments to improve diagnosis, treatment, and survival rates set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. The Government has also pledged to ensure that at least 75% of people with cancer be diagnosed at stage 1 or 2, by 2028.

Breast screening is believed to save approximately 1,300 women every year with around 21,000 cancer diagnoses made.

Minister of State for Health, Helen Whately, said: “Catching cancer early saves lives. Last year 100,000 people were diagnosed with cancer at stages one and two. This is the highest proportion on record but we want to do better still.

“These breast cancer screening units will mean more people can get checked for cancer, closer to home. Most people will get the reassurance of an all-clear but for those who are diagnosed, catching their cancer early is the best thing we can do – and gets them on the path to early treatment too.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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