Earlier breast cancer detection 'could save 1,000 lives'

Almost a thousand deaths a year could be avoided if breast cancer was detected earlier, research suggests.

Screening for breast cancer at the earliest stage is recommended (Photograph: SPL)
Screening for breast cancer at the earliest stage is recommended (Photograph: SPL)

If cancer detection rates in the UK matched the best performing countries in Europe, Norway and Sweden, 957 deaths could be prevented among women who are diagnosed too late, the study showed.

Professor Henrik Møller, lead author from King's College London, said: ‘These figures show how important it is for women, and GPs, to know the symptoms of breast cancer and to act on them without delay.

‘Going for screening when invited will also help to catch the disease at the earliest stage. Although women over 70 aren't routinely invited for screening, they can ask their GP for a mammogram.'

In England, over 38,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year and eight out of 10 women survive the disease beyond five years.

The majority of unavoidable deaths from breast cancer occur within two years of diagnosis and mainly in older women over 80.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, national cancer director, said the study highlighted 'the importance of early diagnosis in achieving the best possible survival rates for women with breast cancer'.

‘Survival rates have improved in this country over the past decade, but there is more to be done,' he said.

'Over the coming months we shall be looking at what needs to be done to achieve earlier diagnosis.'

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