UK cancer screening IT error may have shortened lives

03 May, 2018, 16:03 | Author: Austin Daniel
  • Women should be tested for breast cancer at age 30 experts say

The algorithm failure was discovered in March, meaning that about 450,000 women (aged between 68 and 71) were not invited to their final breast cancer screenings between 2009 and the start of 2018.

The algorithm failure has been identified and fixed and the women affected - of which 309,000 are estimated to still be alive - will receive invitations for screenings, Hunt said. The health secretary continued that he was deeply sorry for any "pain" that was caused by this error, and that by the end of May, women under the age of 75 will be offered a routine mammogram.

It is possible that women undergoing treatment for breast cancer or those who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer may also receive the letters.

Screening programmes are run separately across the United Kingdom and so this issue only affects women registered with a GP in England.

In the United Kingdom, women between the ages of 50 and 70 are automatically invited for breast cancer screenings every three years as the likelihood of developing breast cancer increases with age.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: 'We are shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of women in England have missed out on their opportunity for breast screening - and the implications for Global Positioning System and our teams will potentially be significant, as patients seek reassurance and to find out where they go from here.

The health secretary will announce a major inquiry into the programme, run by Public Health England, the Guardian understands.

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Hunt has now commissioned an independent review of the NHS breast screening programme to look at issues, including its processes, IT systems and further changes and improvements that can be made to the system to minimise the risk of any repetition of this incident.

A computer model suggests between 135 and 270 women may have had their lives shortened as a result, he said. Around four in every five women can expect to survive, thanks in part to the early diagnosis provided by the national screening service.

- What happens if I am affected?

"The Northern Ireland breast screening programme has been running since 1989".

'So on behalf of the Government, Public Health England and the NHS, I apologise wholeheartedly and unreservedly for the suffering caused'.

Dr Jenny Harries, PHE deputy medical director apologised for error which she said was a "complex IT problem".

These sessions were conducted with the support of CPAA - Cancer Patients Aid Association, and women were taught how to perform a breast self-examination at home, before giving them the purses that serve as a reminder.

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