Error in Breast Cancer Screening

June 29, 2018  Source: DigitalHealth 116

A shocking report revealed that an error in breast cancer screening tests may have affected a vast number of women across England. Due to a computer algorithm failure dating back to 2009, a group of women was not sent for routine breast cancer screening tests before their 71st birthdays. Public Health England (PHE) predicted that around 450,000 women may have been affected due to these screening errors during 2009.

But Professor Peter Sasieni, a research scientist in cancer screening and prevention from King’s College London, appealed that the error could have occurred as far back as 2005. Peter Sasieni published a letter in the Lancet in this regard. In this letter, Sasieni stated that he had gone through breast screening data between 2004 and 2017, where women aged 45 to 70 were sent invitations every year. He appealed that around 140,000 women may have been affected between 2005 and 2008 due to screening error resulting in a total of 502,000 women.

Sasieni said, “Data that might have alerted people to the lower than expected number of invitations being sent to women aged 70 were publicly available, but no one looked at them carefully enough. Some of the fault lies in the way the data were presented, but it is also unclear whose responsibility it is to monitor such outcomes.”

Professor John Newton, director of Public Health England declared that the analysis had gone “flawed”. He said that the PHE would offer the necessary support to those women who had been the victims of the breast screening error. Baroness Delyth Morgan, the new CEO said, “We urge Public Health England to make clear the full extent of the error as soon as possible.”

By Ddu