Hundreds of women may have had their lives cut short because of an NHS IT error that meant they weren’t called for their final routine breast screening, with up to 450,000 women potentially affected by the algorithm failure that took place in 2009 and ran right through to 2018.
According to ITV, the computer failure saw many women aged between 68 and 71 not sent their final breast screening invitation. Those aged between 50 and 70 are automatically invited for this screening every three years because the risk of developing this kind of cancer increases with age.
Of the women who did miss their invitations, 309,000 are estimated to still be alive. All those registered with a GP and living in the UK will have been contacted by their doctor by the end of May.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised that an independent review of the breast screening programme will be carried out, expected in six months’ time.
He was quoted by the news source as saying:
“As well as apologising to the families affected, we would wish to offer any further advice they might find helpful including the process by which we can establish whether the missed scan is a likely cause of death and compensation is therefore payable.”
To help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, reduce your alcohol intake, exercise more, improve your diet, consider alternatives to oral contraception and try to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. You won’t be able to fully eliminate the risk but you can do a lot to reduce it, which will also help reduce your risk of other illnesses and conditions at the same time.
Carry out a breast cancer self exam using the non-diagnostic breast self-examination device BREAST-i.