Breast Cancer scandal: 270 woman died after NHS computer error denied screenings

Breast Cancer scandal: 270 woman died after NHS computer error denied screenings

Up to 270 women could have had their lives cut short by the error, which meant women aged 68 to 71 were not called to their final routine screening.

It is especially harrowing for those who have lost a wife, mother or sister to breast cancer over the last nine years, and cannot help but wonder if it could be related to their being part of this cohort of women.

Breast Cancer Care said there is "confusion" about the current system and greater awareness is needed.

He added that it "unlikely" to have led to more deaths than this range, but stated: "tragically there are likely to be some people in this group who would have been alive today if the failure had not happened".

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament that women aged between 67 and 70 were affected, but Sky News understands those not invited were overwhelmingly aged 70 at the time they were due to be scanned.

"Potentially we are talking about 450,000 women who could have died, it is all very well saying only a percentage but we are not born as a percentage of anything, we are a person".

'Following independent expert clinical advice, the letters will inform all those under 75 that they will automatically be sent an invitation to a catch up screening'.

Gina Long MBE says the failure is "catastrophic".

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The NHS breast screening programme detects around 18,400 cancers per year and saves 1,300 lives.

Of the 450,000 women affected, 309,000 are still alive and in their 70s.

The independent review will be chaired by Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, and Martin Gore, professor of cancer medicine at the Institute of Cancer Research and a consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

"The issue came to light because an upgrade to the breast screening invitation IT system provided improved data on the actual ages of the women receiving screening invitations", Hunt told the Commons.

He said it is not now known whether any delay in diagnosis resulted in avoidable death, but that it is estimated between 135 and 270 women had their lives shortened as a result. Many are anxiously playing a waiting game until the letters arrive, not knowing if they've been affected.

Throughout the United Kingdom, women aged 50 to 70 should be automatically invited to have a mammogram every three years, provided they are registered with a GP. Others are extremely anxious about when their letters will arrive and how long it will take to get screened.

"And so that's why we're having constructive discussions to share IT information to make sure that everyone in England or Wales registered with a GP will get that letter".

"It's hugely significant, we have to be concerned generally about confidence in the screening process, but we need to know how it has happened".

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