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‘Alarming’ failings in cancer care fuel premature breast cancer deaths

This article was taken from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/27/alarming-failings-cancer-care-fuel-premature-breast-cancer-deaths/

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Women are twice as likely to die from breast cancer in some parts of the country amid “alarming” failings by NHS services, experts have warned.

A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer reveals a “postcode lottery” in screening, diagnosis and death rates from the disease.

Sufferers said they had been put through “absolute hell” amid long waits for diagnosis, with critical shortages of staff.

The report warns that women in some parts of the country are twice as likely as those elsewhere to die from breast cancer before the age of 75.

The worst rates were in Newark and Sherwood clinical commissioning group (CCG), with 31.9 per 100,000 people dying from breast cancer before the age of 75, compared with 13.3 per 100,000 in Tower Hamlets CCG.

The report also shows wide variations in early detection of the disease. In Gloucestershire, less than 62 per cent of cancers were detected at stage one or two, compared with 88 per cent in the best-performing area of Rushcliffe CCG.

About | Breast cancer

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

  • A change in size or shape of the breast
  • A lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue
  • Redness or a rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling
  • Discharge (liquid) that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • Nipple becoming inverted or changing its position or shape
  • A swelling in the armpit or around the collarbone
  • Constant pain in the breast or armpit

What to do if you find a change:

  • Most changes are likely to be normal or due to a benign (not cancer) breast condition
  • If you notice a change, visit a GP as soon as possible
  • A GP may feel there is no need for further investigation or may refer you to a breast clinic
  • If you do not feel comfortable with a male GP, ask if there is a female GP available

Source: Breast Cancer Care

The report also warns that screening is now the lowest it has been for a decade, with a decline in every area apart from London.

And it said too many cancer patients were left to “fend for themselves” after treatment finished, when others received help from specialist nurses and advice about symptoms to look out for.

Women who gave evidence to MPs said they had been forced to endure “absolute hell” waiting to even be diagnosed with the disease.Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “This alarming report shows many women are missing out on the best breast cancer care this country has to offer, and this is totally unacceptable.“We urge NHS England and Public Health England to take immediate action to help prevent more breast cancers, detect the disease earlier and ensure all women receive fair access to the care, treatment and support they need.”An NHS England spokesman said: “Cancer survival rates have never been higher with more than 7,000 people now surviving after successful NHS treatment compared to three years ago and we’re already addressing the issues raised by this report.

“Latest figures show an increase in the number of women being screened and a new joint NHS England and PHE service will provide local areas with key data to help improve consistency of services for patients across the country.”