Our response to the breast cancer screening crisis

Posted on - 03/05/2018
Author: Communications Team

Yesterday the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP, announced that women’s lives may have been cut short by a major IT error which meant 450,000 patients in England missed crucial breast cancer screenings.

It was due to computer algorithm failure, which meant an estimated 450,000 women aged between 68 and 71 were not invited to their final breast screening between 2009 and the start of 2018.


As many as 270 women may have died because of this computer error.


Families now face the distressing possibility that loved ones who have recently died from breast cancer may have missed opportunities for early diagnosis. Women receiving breast cancer treatment, including those with a terminal diagnosis, may also receive letters informing them of missed screenings in the coming months.


The government has ordered an independent inquiry into this crisis.


To reassure bowel cancer patients, Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “Having discussed the recent issues around breast cancer screening with the National Screening team this morning, we have been reassured that the IT systems running breast and bowel cancer screening programmes are different.


“The team are confident and we are reassured that a similar problem with the algorithm used is unlikely to occur in bowel cancer screening.”