Sadly, almost all of us will have been affected by cancer, whether it’s losing a loved one or receiving a devastating diagnosis, the impact of this disease is far reaching into our lives.
In the UK, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer, with roughly one in eight women being diagnosed in their lifetime. If we are to improve outcomes for diagnoses and ensure early detection, we must do more.
I believe we should set an ambition for the NHS to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe. Key to this will be improving early diagnosis, public awareness and screening programmes, as well as ensuring that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly. We know that if it’s detected in its early stages, there is a very good chance of recovery.
Breast cancer screening is offered to all women over 50 in the UK to detect early signs of cancer and I strongly encourage all women in this age range to attend their screening when invited by the NHS.
I am also pleased that the Government have finally decided to fund a secondary breast cancer audit, following tireless campaigning from individuals, organisations and charities like Breast Cancer Now. I’m delighted to have been able to support their work, through continual pressure on the Government with my Parliamentary Questions.
It’s hoped that this will ensure we have accurate figures on the number of people living with secondary breast cancer in England, which will improve our understanding of the experiences and needs of this group of patients. This is an important step towards delivering the care people with secondary breast cancer deserve.
In the current climate, following the devastating impact of Coronavirus, we cannot allow cancer patients or diagnoses to be forgotten. With record numbers of patients waiting for diagnostic tests, I believe we need an urgent and fully resourced plan to tackle this backlog and enable our health service to move between the competing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and non-COVID related care. I really hope the Government rise to this challenge.