According to a study, thousands of older women with breast cancer are unnecessarily denied surgery that could save their lives.
Women over 70 can be overlooked for surgery or chemotherapy because they mistakenly believe they are too frail to withstand intensive treatment.
Instead, they are often given pills for therapy with estrogen hormones, a less aggressive treatment for breast cancer.
However, research has shown that it is appropriate for almost all older women to undergo surgery that is more effective and can add years to their lives.
According to a study, thousands of older women with breast cancer are unnecessarily denied surgery that could save their lives. Library image
The 60-year-old woman was "fortunately unaware" of her breast cancer when the mammography was canceled
Susan Daniels was "luckily unaware" that she may have breast cancer when her mammogram was canceled at the start of the lockdown.
Susan Daniels' mammogram was canceled at the beginning of the lockdown.
But two months later she found a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with the disease in June.
Although Ms. Daniels missed the screening, she believes she is one of the lucky ones because she was able to get a quick diagnosis after checking her breasts.
The 60-year-old has since been operated on and is due to start radiotherapy shortly.
She said, “I always attended my breast exams when I was invited. When we were moving to a new area, I called in March to make the appointment I had.
“When I was told that the screening was suspended due to the pandemic and that I would receive an invitation at some point in the future, it was disappointing, but I understood that COVID-19 was making everything difficult. Fortunately, at the time, I wasn't aware that I could have breast cancer. "
The quality manager from Glynneath, Wales said: “When I received the news that I had breast cancer, it was both devastating and surreal.
“In my opinion, screening is critical to early detection, as is self-monitoring. I can't even begin to experience the hardship experienced by someone who is still waiting for an appointment. "
Of the 55,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year in the UK, nearly 19,000 are over 70 years old.
Older women are more likely to die from the disease than younger women. However, experts say they should be offered surgery to "close the age gap in survival rates."
Researchers at the University of Sheffield looked at 2,979 elderly women with breast cancer, about one in five being treated with only anti-estrogen tablets while the rest had surgery.
The pill-only group was on average eight years older than the group that had surgery.
Over the next four years, 42 percent of the group without surgery died from any reason, compared to 14 percent of the group who had surgery.
After adjusting the results for age, stage of the tumor and other diseases, the researchers, whose results were presented at the virtual European Breast Cancer Conference, found that every third woman treated with tablets dies, compared to only one in four women who undergo surgery.
There were also no deaths from surgery, and complications such as heart attacks and strokes were rare.
Lead author Professor Lynda Wyld said, “Most women tolerate surgery well and should be the goal of treatment whenever possible, as we've shown that surgery is generally well tolerated and survival rates are slightly lower in women without surgery . & # 39;
But she added that surgery isn't for everyone, especially women who are already struggling with their health.
She said, “When we looked at the two treatments in a less healthy group of older women, those differences in breast cancer survival disappeared.
"These results suggest that for older, less fit, frail women with hormone-positive breast cancer, hormone therapy alone is likely to be as good as surgery if their life expectancy is less than four to five years."
Dr. Kotryna Temcinaite of Breast Cancer Now said, “This valuable research could lead to a new way of evaluating treatment options for older women that will ensure that they are receiving treatment that is best for them by not just their age, but Their age also takes into account their fitness and their personal preferences in terms of treatment.
"It is critical that all women with breast cancer, regardless of their age, be given the opportunity to discuss all available treatments with their clinical team so that treatment decisions are tailored to what is best for each individual. "
A MILLION women miss vital breast screening: A huge backlog after coronavirus lockdown means thousands of patients could have undetected cancer … 986,000 are waiting for life-saving mammograms
By Eleanor Hayward Health Reporter for the Daily Mail
One million women have missed breast cancer screening due to bans.
The huge backlog means the deadly disease may have gone undetected in around 8,600 of them.
The charity Breast Cancer Now estimates 986,000 patients are waiting for life-saving mammograms as screening stalled after the pandemic outbreak.
Early diagnosis greatly improves the chances of survival, and doctors warned of delays that could lead to young and otherwise healthy women "dying unnecessarily".
One million women have missed breast cancer screening due to bans. The huge backlog means the deadly disease may have gone undetected in around 8,600 of them. Library image
The screening program, which prevents around 1,300 deaths and detects 19,000 cases a year, was suspended for four months in March.
Today's shocking numbers underscore the disastrous impact of the pandemic on millions of patients with illnesses other than Covid-19.
"Mammography saved my life," says Karen King, mother of two
Getting a mammogram saved Karen King's life.
Karen King, 49, says a mammogram saved her life
The 49-year-old thanks her lucky stars every day for the screening program that saw her develop breast cancer before she had symptoms last year.
But the pictured Southampton mother of two now fears for the many thousands of women who may be in her position.
"I'm really concerned about the backlog among women waiting for routine mammograms caused by the pandemic," she said.
"I understand why the screening had to be canceled, but I know that it has been a major concern for many women who may be waiting for a postponement, and I also have no idea if my annual mammogram will be affected if it's December is due.
“I firmly believe that screening and my surgeon saved my life by finding my breast cancer when it was not showing any symptoms. I am so happy that we have this program. "
The Daily Mail highlighted official data showing that the unintended consequences of the lockdown, including delays in cancer treatment, could result in the loss of nearly 75,000 lives.
This will increase pressure on Boris Johnson to withhold a second lockdown, and activists insist that cancer treatment cannot afford to be stopped again.
Experts warned the NHS had "an enormous mountain to climb" to clean up the screening backlog.
Breast x-rays, an essential tool in the early detection of breast cancer, are offered every three years to women aged 50 to 71.
Although NHS screening has now resumed, many clinics have had to reduce the number of appointments due to social distancing and infection control.
The NHS is also facing a desperate shortage of diagnostic staff to carry out the checks – a quarter of health foundations have chest radiologist positions.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of Breast Cancer Now said: “The fact that nearly a million women across the UK have lagged behind waiting for breast exams is a cause for concern as we know around 8,600 of these women could have lived with undetected breast cancer.
“Mammograms are a key tool in the early detection of breast cancer, which is critical to preventing women from dying from the disease. We cannot afford to stop the program again. "
Around 55,000 cases of breast cancer are discovered in the UK each year, killing 11,500 people.
Nine out of ten women diagnosed in the earliest stages will live at least five years, compared with only 15 percent of women diagnosed in the most advanced stages.
Between March and July, around 107,000 fewer women were referred to a specialist with suspected breast cancer compared to the same period last year.
In hundreds of thousands of cancer patients, vital scans, tests, operations, chemotherapy or radiation therapy have been delayed or canceled due to Covid-19.
Breast x-rays, an essential tool in the early detection of breast cancer, are offered to women aged 50 to 71 every three years. Library image
Some of these procedures have saved or extended lives and given cancer patients valuable extra time.
Yesterday, leaked data from the Health Service Journal revealed that more than 6,000 NHS patients waited more than 100 days after being referred to cancer services.
The number on the cancer waiting list rose from 50,000 in early August to around 58,000 in mid-September.
Mary Wilson, Breast Radiologist Consultant and Project Leader for the National Breast Imaging Academy, said, “It is an enormous mountain to not only maintain pre-pandemic activity but also to achieve a tremendous catch-up process with inadequate labor. We urgently need more radiologists.
"A long-term investment plan is essential."
Karol Sikora, Consultant Oncologist at the University of Buckingham, said, “Unfortunately, young, otherwise healthy women will die unnecessarily because of these delays. We closed the country to Covid – where is the government's urgency for this? "
A spokesman for the NHS in England said: “The vast majority of cancers detected by screening programs are in the very early stages, so the impact on patients who should be screened is extremely small.
"More than 200,000 people were treated for cancer during the height of the pandemic. Breast examination services are now fully operational."