What can be the consequences of delaying mammogram tests?

What can be the consequences of delaying mammogram tests?

What can be the consequences of delaying mammogram tests?_ichhori.com

A mammogram test is done to examine a woman’s breasts. The examination is done by using low-dose x-rays, and the x-rays detect the early signs of breast cancer or benign tumours and cysts. It is recommended to have regular mammograms because the test can detect any problems with the breasts as early as three years before they can be felt. 

How is a Mammogram Test done?

A mammogram test is done by using an x-ray machine. For this, first, you have to stand in front of an x-ray machine. Then, a technician will place your breast on a plastic plate, and another plate will press your breast from above. This will flatten your breast and will hold it still for the x-ray to be taken. Then these steps are repeated to take an x-ray of the side of the breast. The other breast is x-rayed in the same way.

You have to then take the x-rays to a specialist, where they will tell if there are  nay problems with your breasts. 

Consequences for delaying mammogram tests. 

Mammogram delays may result in 700 additional breast cancer deaths following the cancellation of routine screening due to the Covid pandemic, according to a study. 

  • NHS delays due to the pandemic may result in 700 additional breast cancer deaths, according to the study. 
  • According to scientists, cancers that are typically detected during routine screenings may have worsened. 
  • Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 1.5 million UK women had their mammograms postponed. 
  • Thousands of cases of breast cancer have gone undetected, according to experts.

According to one study, nearly 700 more women in England may die from breast cancer as a result of the pandemic.

Covid-19 and Breast Cancer

Delays in screening due to lockdown restrictions mean that hundred more people are likely to perish. The affect of Covid-19 on breast cancer  is:

  • Many cancers that would have been detected during routine checks is likely to be progressed while women were forced to wait, according to researchers.    Further delays caused by clearing the screening backlog will exacerbate the situation. 

  • Between July 2020 and July 2021, nearly 1.5 million women in the United Kingdom had routine mammograms delayed by up to seven months. 

  • Researchers from the Department of Health and Social Care, the UK Health Security Agency, and Queen Mary University of London calculated that this will result in thousands of additional cases of breast cancer that would have been detected during screening but will instead be diagnosed after women develop symptoms and the tumour is more advanced.

Leading cancer charities demanded more information on how the government intends to address staff shortages that are affecting services.

The findings were 'utterly devastating,' according to Baroness Morgan, CEO of Breast Cancer Now. 'This research highlights the tragic consequences of Covid-19 disruption for breast cancer,' she added.

'It is now a matter of life and death for the government to address this backlog as an immediate priority.' It is critical to increase the cancer workforce as soon as possible.'


'Breast screening services are back up and running, which is fantastic,' said Dr Jodie Moffat, head of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK.


'However, clearing the backlog is difficult due to a lack of NHS capacity.'


'We need to know how the extra money promised to the NHS will be used to address these chronic workforce shortages.'


Last September, the government promised an additional £5.4 billion over six months to assist the NHS in dealing with pandemic backlogs.


In the United Kingdom, more than two million women have annual breast cancer screenings, which are credited with saving 1,300 lives each year. However, within months of the pandemic's start in March 2020, the NHS was forced to suspend most routine breast X-rays.

What does the study show?

The most recent study, published online in the British Journal of Cancer, is one of the first to calculate the exact impact of the delays on the breast cancer death toll.


Researchers examined the number of women affected by screening suspension and the length of time it lasted, as well as the proportion of cancers that would have been missed as a result of the checks being postponed. As a result of the programme disruption, they estimated that 2,783 cancers in England would progress from screen-detected to symptomatic disease.


According to them, an optimistic scenario in which the backlog is cleared quickly could result in only 148 additional breast cancer deaths. A more pessimistic assessment puts the additional death toll at 687.


'It's likely that the true numbers are closer to the upper end of the range,' warn the researchers. Delays in diagnosis may have a significant negative impact on women's breast cancer survival over the next ten years.'

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