In September, many of us attended socially distanced or virtual coffee mornings. raised a cuppa and donated money to MacMillan Cancer Support, which has been doing fantastic work supporting those with cancer and their loved ones for well over a century. Now, in October, we mark Breast Cancer Awareness month and I recently spoke in Parliament to highlight the importance of screening and early detection of cancers which leads to better outcomes.
This disease can have a devastating impact, however the national breast cancer screening programme detects thousands of early cases of breast cancer every year, that might otherwise have not been detected until further down the line, when it can become harder to treat.
The impact of Covid on the normal routines of cancer screening resulted in a significant backlog and a huge effort was needed to reduce the backlog from 840,000 in England to around 50,000. Undoubtedly, key tool in our arsenal against this devastating disease is mobile unit screening. Detecting cancer early through breast screening increases the chances of positive outcomes during treatment and evidence suggests that uptake of appointments tends to be higher when mobile screening units are available. Having testing facilities available locally and in convenient locations can make a real difference in attendance and detection.
That’s why, in Parliament, I continue to raise the importance of mobile screening units and highlight the lack of access to local mobile testing as a barrier for testing. Whilst there are a number of factors which affect where units can be positioned and potential sites must meet a comprehensive list of criteria before being placed, it’s important to focus on making this life saving screening accessible for all women.
And whilst our attention in recent months has rightly been on protecting the NHS, ensuring it has not been overwhelmed and saving lives, we should not take our eye off the ball when it comes to cancer, its screening, and treatment. It is vital that not only are mobile testing units available, but that people know just how important it is to take up screening when appointments are offered. Early detection leads to better outcomes.
I will continue to advocate strongly for women’s health.