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Breast Cancer: Screening

Volume 464: debated on Friday 19 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what date he expects (a) the NHS Breast Screening Programme to be extended to cover all women aged 47 to 73 years and (b) everyone with breast problems to be seen by a specialist within two weeks, following a referral by their GP; and if he will make a statement. (157259)

Further details on these two announcements will be made in the Cancer Reform Strategy, which we hope to publish later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the availability of breast cancer screening for those considered high risk in Hertfordshire. (157518)

The Department does not hold information centrally on specific clinics or services offered by individual trust or funded by individual primary care trusts (PCTs). The provision of services is a matter for agreement between trusts and their commissioning PCTs, in consultation with local stakeholders. This should take into consideration local needs and priorities while ensuring they meet core national standards for the delivery of health services.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published a clinical guideline on familial breast cancer in May 2004, partially updated in October 2006. The clinical guideline relates to the classification and care of women at risk of familial breast cancer in primary, secondary and tertiary care. The guideline recommends that women at moderate familial risk of breast cancer or greater should receive annual mammography or magnetic resonance imaging surveillance.

NICE clinical guidelines are covered by the Department’s developmental standards—standards which the national health service is expected to achieve over time. The Healthcare Commission has responsibility for assessing progress towards achieving these standards.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many women had to wait longer than (a) two weeks, (b) one month and (c) four months to be screened for breast cancer after referral by a GP in the last period for which figures are available, broken down by London borough. (157630)

This information is not held in the format requested. A table showing breast cancer waiting times for the whole of England has been placed in the Library and is also available at:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time is for a patient to be seen at a London Breast Screening Unit after referral by a GP. (157631)

The information requested is not held centrally.

The national health service breast screening programme is operated from local breast screening units, who send invitations to eligible women directly. If abnormalities are found on a woman’s mammogram, an appointment at the local assessment clinic is made automatically by the local breast screening unit. General practitioners are not an integral part of the programme, but are kept fully informed of their patients’ progress through the programme by being copied into results letters.