Thank you for contacting me about breast cancer.
It is important that every effort is made to continue raising awareness of breast cancer, and tackle this disease, which has taken so many lives over the years.
In 2015, Public Health England launched Be Clear on Cancer, a national scheme which has significantly improved awareness of breast cancer in women over 70, who account for roughly 1 in 3 cases of breast cancer. This has contributed to improved diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. I recognise that there is significant variation in breast cancer survival rates across different regions and demographics. Public health campaigns like Be Clear on Cancer can make a significant difference when it comes to raising awareness and understanding cancer and its early symptoms throughout the whole country. I hope initiatives like this will encourage more people to talk about the possibility of cancer, and help groups of women with traditionally poorer survival rates for breast cancer recognise symptoms earlier, and quickly approach their doctor.
Breast cancer survival rates have improved remarkably over the last 40 years, and this is testament to the efforts made to raise awareness of cancer, promote healthy lifestyles, and boost funding into tackling this disease.
I know that ministers are making great efforts to improve cancer services, and ensure that the NHS provides some of the world's best cancer care. The NHS has launched the National Cancer Programme which is committed to offering uniquely tailored cancer treatment to all patients with breast cancer by 2020 It is working closely with Health Education England and Macmillan Cancer Support to understand the best ways developing and implementing cancer services by the same date.
You may also be interested to know that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is updating its guidelines on the diagnosis and management of breast cancer. These guidelines will cover the use of adjuvant bisphosphonates and other cancer drugs, and will be published in July 2018.
Additionally, the NHS is trialling expanding compulsory screening to women aged between 47 and 73. This trial began in 2009 and is expected to run until the mid-2020s, until the NHS has sufficient information to understand its effectiveness. Figures from Cancer Research UK show a significant increase in the incidence of breast cancer in women in their mid-40s, and very low rates of occurrence in those under the age of 30. I believe it is appropriate that the NHS is looking at expanding the screening process, whilst ensuring resources are allocated wisely, and directed towards those women most likely to be at risk of contracting breast cancer.
I believe these developments will significantly improve patient experience and quality of care. The NHS is implementing the independent Cancer Taskforce's recommendation that all breast cancer patients shall receive access to a Clinical Nurse Specialist, or other key workers. This will enable greater detection of any recurrence or secondary breast cancer, and enable a quick and effective return to care.
This is part of the NHS's ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes, and save 30,000 lives per year by 2020. I am happy to say that great progress is being made. In 2017, there were 21 million diagnostic tests for cancer, and nearly 2 million people were seen by a specialist for suspected cancer, double the amount in 2010.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.