Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 14:02 UK

Sussex trust apologises for breast cancer screen delays

Radiographer studying a mammogram
The trust said there was a shortage of radiographers

A Sussex hospital trust has apologised to women who have had their breast cancer screening dates delayed for up to seven months.

Women aged 50 to 70 are invited for NHS breast screening every three years in the UK.

In Uckfield and Crowborough about 4,500 are waiting on average an extra six months to be screened.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust said the delay had been caused by it moving premises in 2008.

'Best detection rate'

It said a national shortage of mammographers and radiographers was also to blame.

Chief Executive Duncan Selbie said: "Our breast screening service is consistently rated in the top 10% and has one of the best cancer detection rates in England, and we will never compromise on this.

"We have been very open about the fact that our screening programme is behind as a consequence of moving into new, state-of-the art premises in November 2008, and the national shortage of mammographers and radiographers.

He added: "We have been advertising continuously and working exceptionally hard to catch up the backlog."

Mammograms can spot dangerous tumours, but might also detect lumps that are essentially harmless, exposing some women to undue anxiety and surgery.

This has led to a debate among experts about the benefits of breast screening.

More than 45,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, and more than 12,000 die from the disease.

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Sue Weiner was among patients whose mammograms were delayed



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