Serious failure in breast cancer screening in England may have shortened lives: Minister

A radiographer preparing a woman for a mammogram in Singapore.
A radiographer preparing a woman for a mammogram in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

LONDON (REUTERS) - As many as 270 lives might have been shortened after errors in the breast cancer screening programme in England meant 450,000 patients were not notified for appointments, Britain's health minister said on Wednesday (May 2).

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised for the "serious failure," which he said was the result of a mistake in the computer system's algorithm, and ordered an independent inquiry.

"Our current best estimate which comes with caveats... is that there may be between 135 and 270 women who had their lives shortened as a result," he told Parliament.

"Tragically there are likely to be some people in this group who would have been alive today if the failure had not happened."