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Breast Cancer

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government have taken to reduce deaths caused by breast cancer since 1997. (164029)

We have taken a number of steps to reduce deaths from breast cancer specifically.

Working in partnership, with Cancer Research UK, we produce the “Be Breast Aware” leaflet, advising women on the importance on being breast aware and knowing what signs or changes to look out for. Over a million copies of this leaflet are produced each year.

In September 2000 we published the NHS Cancer Plan, which introduced a number of targets and initiatives aimed specifically at breast cancer. These were:

the introduction of two-view mammography to improve detection rates,

extension of the screening age range to include women aged up to 70,

that there should be a maximum one month wait from diagnosis to treatment for breast cancer and a maximum two month wait from urgent general practitioner referral to treatment for breast cancer, and

a review of the Department’s improving outcomes in breast cancer guidance by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

As well as updating the breast cancer guidance in August 2002, NICE has produced clinical guidelines for familial breast cancer and has issued appraisals on nine drugs to treat breast cancer, more than for any other cancer type, and is currently appraising a further two drugs.

We have also provided Section 64 funding to a number of breast cancer charities to improve awareness of breast cancer.

We are currently developing the Cancer Reform Strategy, which will set out the future direction of cancer services in England. We aim to publish by the end of the year.

In September, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced proposals for cancer services including extending the breast cancer screening age range to women aged between 43 and 73 and a guaranteed appointment with a specialist within two weeks of referral for all patients with breast problems, not just those with suspected cancer.