The Covid-19 crisis has largely shutdown our lab-based research and our clinical projects. It may be several months before we can restart. Thankfully there is some good news from the NHS, as clinical services for women with breast cancer slowly get back to normal. However, there is still a problem. Catching up on the lost months of NHS breast screening will require recruiting and training more specialist mammographers and radiologists. For more details please click here to read the report from Dr Mary Wilson on the alarming effect coronavirus is having on breast cancer diagnosis.
Returning to our roots
One of the fundamentals to prevent breast cancer is ‘Screening and Early Diagnosis’. This is where Prevent Breast Cancer started over 20 years ago, and this is where we must turn all of our attention now in this crisis.
We need to support the work of The Nightingale Breast Screening Centre, where our Prevent Breast Cancer Research Unit is based. We need to support the NHS breast screening teams, our incredible scientists and the thousands of women and their families who come through our doors every year.
In the short term this means focusing our efforts to ensure that the charity can continue to survive. We need to sustain the services we provide at the Nightingale Centre – our coffee bar remains open to NHS staff and patients, providing a much-needed service. Furthermore, the Prevent Breast Cancer Team is working tirelessly to ensure critical activity continues, this includes creating and implementing novel online fundraising campaigns, writing applications to funders and planning future activity, which is vital if we are to meet our medium and long-term objectives.
When the NHS breast screening programme gets up and running again, it is going to need to train extra staff across the country. For the hundreds of women attending our family history clinics, and for women in “at-risk” groups across the whole population, and for those who need post breast cancer checkups. This involves training more breast imaging experts, and this project is our primary focus for 2020-2021.
We urgently need a national academy to train more breast cancer doctors, nurses, radiographers and other apprentices to rebuild breast cancer teams across the country, and to fulfil our vision that a step change in breast cancer screening, early diagnosis and prevention strategies in the future could make breast cancer preventable for the next generation. Click here for more details on how a National Breast Imaging Academy could make a difference.
Any help you are able to give during these challenging times will contribute towards combatting the devastating effects of Covid-19 on our mission to prevent breast cancer for future generations.