Thank you for contacting me about breast cancer.
Please be assured that every effort is being made to continue raising awareness of breast cancer and to improve the treatment of all those diagnosed with this disease.
I want to provide reassurance that reducing waiting times for cancer treatment, including for breast cancer, is an urgent priority for the Government. As part of the 2021 Spending Review, £2.3 billion was allocated to improve diagnostic capacity over the following three years.
This will be supported by the Government’s Major Conditions Strategy. Following a recent call for evidence, the Strategy will be published in full in due course.
The Government is committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are diagnosed with breast cancer as soon as possible. Community Diagnostic Centres are also being established, which will be one-stop-shops for checks, scans and tests, helping those with suspected breast cancer to access earlier diagnostic tests closer to home.
I recognise the urgency of Breast Cancer Now's campaign to increase the recovery and uptake of breast screening services.
Whilst services have begun to recover - with 2.06 million women screened in 2021-22 compared to 1.12 million in 2020-21 - I recognise there is much more progress to be made.
The NHS’s Breast Screening Programme in England offers all women between the ages of 50 and 70 the opportunity to be screened every three years for breast cancer. These screenings play a key part in the early diagnosis of breast cancer, and preventing approximately 1,300 women dying each year.
I understand that several steps are being taken to improve breast cancer screening rates in the United Kingdom, including the use of text message alerts to remind women of upcoming appointments, and local and national media campaigns to raise awareness of the breast screening programme. Through the Women’s Health Strategy, £10 million funding has been provided to expand capacity for breast screening through the delivery of 29 new breast cancer screening units, 58 remote access upgrades and nearly 70 life-saving service upgrades.
As the e-petition for a Petitions Committee Debate on Breast Screening did not receive 100,000 signatures within six months, it did not meet the threshold for a debate to be held in Parliament. However, since over 84,000 people signed this petition and breast cancer screening is a topic which impacts so many people, I have ensured colleagues in the DHSC are aware of the strength of feeling on this issue.