During the midst of the pandemic, the healthcare sector was forced to focus on emergency treatment and procedures only. This meant standard services, such as breast cancer screening, were put on the backburner.
While breast cancer screening rates are gradually starting to increase, experts are worried about the impact COVID has had on screening referrals. Here, we will look at why there has been a drop in referrals for this crucial service, and why it remains imperative for women to undergo a breast cancer check.
Pandemic saw 44.1% decrease in breast cancer screening
A new report published by NHS Digital has revealed that the number of women aged over 45 being screened for breast cancer between 2020 and 2021 dropped by 44.1%.
A total of 1.19 million women were screened for breast cancer between April 2020 and March 2021. This is compared to 2.12 million women the year prior. While the restriction on services put in place during the pandemic certainly contributed to the figures, it isn’t the only factor that caused a reduction in rates.
According to the report, uptake of routine invitations also dropped to a staggering 61.8%. This is the lowest figure since records began, prompting concern within the sector. Throughout the reporting period, around 7000 fewer cases of breast cancer were detected through screening compared to the previous year.
Other factors impacting breast cancer screening rates
It isn’t just the pandemic that has led to fewer women attending breast cancer screening. As highlighted in the report, many women who were invited to be screened chose not to attend their appointment.
The reasons cited for non-attendance range from fear, to believing the test isn’t relevant. There is no denying some women can find the screening experience uncomfortable. This, alongside the potential embarrassment, has contributed to the lower screening rate.
The importance of early breast cancer screening
The drop in breast cancer screening rates is causing concern over missed diagnosis. Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, accounting for around 15% of cancer cases in the UK. When treated early, patients have a good chance of survival. If caught in the later stages, the prognosis is greatly reduced.
For women who are worried about how uncomfortable the screening may be, there is an alternative. On Health has partnered with Datar Cancer Genetics Limited to offer a blood test for early cancer screening. Trucheck is a blood test for early detection of over 70 types of cancers. This unique test detects and characterises circulating tumour cells ( CTC’s) and clusters. Trucheck has undergone extensive clinical validations involving more than 40,000 participants. Helping to catch cancer in its very early stages, Trucheck is a more comfortable, non-invasive screening method that could benefit millions of women in the UK.
Take the first step toward cancer free life and contact Dr Sahir today.