Skip to main content

Breast Cancer

Volume 891: debated on Monday 28 April 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what facilities are available within the National Health Service for the detection of breast cancer in women; and what measures have been taken to publicise such facilities.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what facilities are available within the National Health Service for the detection of breast cancer in women;(2) how many women have been screened for the detection of cancer of the breast within the National Health Service in each of the past five years;(3) what is the average waiting list of women for screening, for the detection of cancer of the breast, within the National Health Service in the United Kingdom to the most recent convenient date;(4) if she is satisfied with the publicity given to the availability of screening facilities provided for women within the National Health Service for the detection of cancer of the breast.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what NHS facilities are available for the detection of breast cancer in women.

I have now had an opportunity to consider the general question of future action on breast cancer screening following receipt of the recommendations of the joint working group looking at this question, which have been endorsed by the Standing Medical Advisory Committee and similarly accepted for Scotland. I have also consulted the Medical Research Council on the issues raised. I am placing a copy of the report in the Library.The recommendations are that research on specific problems associated with breast cancer screening should be extended, that NHS diagnostic and treatment services should be improved and that the feasibility be examined of substantial investigations of breast cancer screening—including assessment of benefit—designed and controlled to give the maximum amount of information and to lead to progressive development of a national service if results were favourable. At present the group's advice is that a national breast cancer screening service is not justified.In agreement with my right hon. Friends I have decided to accept this advice and in consultation with the Medical Research Council to establish substantial screening trials in certain areas to establish the optimum form any service might take. Two joint groups will be set up to advise us, one on the design and execution of population screening trials, the other on the validity, safety and improvement of screening techniques. I have asked that the groups should start work as soon as possible. Whatever the results of these screening trials nothing will diminish the overriding importance of prompt consultation with her doctor by any woman who discovers suspicious symptoms.General diagnostic facilities for breast cancer are provided widely through outpatient clinics and radiological and pathological departments but special equipment such as mammography and thermography machines are provided on a more limited basis. The Health Departments will now, following the advice of the joint working group, review with health authorities the need for both improved diagnostic and treatment facilities and draw the attention of general practitioners to the services which are currently available.

19691970197119721973
United Kingdom11,98412,03412,47212,54012,834
Liverpool Hospital Region456487434466462

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is the average waiting list of women for screening for the detection of cancer of the breast within the National Health Service in the Merseyside Area Health Authority to the most recent convenient date;(2) how many women have been screened for the detection of cancer of the breast within the National Health Service in the Merseyside Area Health Authority in each year of the past five years.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much has been spent by the Medical Research Council on research into the detection of cancer of the breast in each of the past five years.

Research into the feasibility and methods of earlier detection of breast cancer is primarily undertaken by the Health Departments. My Department has provided funds as follows for research into screening programmes and methods for detecting the disease:

I regret that I cannot give statistics of women screened for breast cancer and waiting for such screening, since my information about facilities for screening is not fully comprehensive.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if she will publish in the Official Report the number of female deaths arising from cancer of the breast in the United Kingdom in each of the past five years to the latest available date;(2) how many deaths have occurred within the area covered by the Merseyside Area Health Authority in each of the past five years to women arising from cancer of the breast.

Data over the past five years, available only for areas as constituted before 1st April 1974, are as follows nationally and for the former Liverpool hospital region:

£
1970–7141,000
1971–72nil
1972–7376,500
1973–74107,000
1974–75131,700