MP reveals difficulty getting breast cancer scans during pandemic – The Guardian

Last Updated on July 14, 2020 by

An MP undergoing treatment for breast cancer has spoken about the anguish of delays after being told that a CT scan needed in March would be put off until September while a cancelled mammogram was not rescheduled.

Barbara Keeley, 67, the MP for Worsley and Eccles South in Greater Manchester, said she eventually had her scans done after insisting and speaking to her oncologist, but that many patients did not have the confidence to challenge decisions to halt treatment.

Hospital trusts across England urgently need more equipment, staff and space to deal with the backlog of scans for cancer and other conditions, with more than 600,000 people waiting for CT, MRI and other scans amid the coronavirus crisis.

Keeley said: “I had treatment for breast cancer last year and was due to have two things: a CT [computerised tomography] scan in March, which was because there was some damage to my lungs from radiotherapy, and that was postponed until September due to coronavirus.

“Secondly I had a mammogram due that is done for breast cancer patients every 12 months to make sure the cancer has not returned. It was due on 5 June and … they just postponed it with no real date given as to when it would be rescheduled for.”

The Labour politician said missing annual mammograms in particular risked failing to spot signs of cancer, and “removes peace of mind”.

She called for greater efforts to be made to tackle the growing waiting list for scans, pointing out that one constituent had been waiting for four months to be seen about stomach cancer symptoms.

“I think a really important thing to say is I am very grateful for the NHS … but everything was put on hold and that is deeply worrying. Patients do not always have the confidence to challenge what they are told, like I did.”

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