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Breast cancer survival rates at their lowest in Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:20 05 October 2010

SCORES of East End women are dying needlessly from breast cancer every year because their condition is diagnosed too late, it emerged this week. Tower Hamlets was found to have the worst survival rate in the country for breast cancer in a study by the D

SCORES of East End women are dying needlessly from breast cancer every year because their condition is diagnosed too late, it emerged this week.

Tower Hamlets was found to have the worst survival rate in the country for breast cancer in a study by the Department of Health, with one in ten victims in the borough likely to die within a year of being diagnosed.

But if they moved to the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea their chance of living longer would increase by seven per cent.

The charity Cancer Research UK has expressed shock at the dramatic variations but health chiefs in Tower Hamlets admitted that women being diagnosed too late could be to blame for the survival gap.

NHS Tower Hamlets has managed to increase its screening rates from 51 per cent to more than 65 per cent in the last three years, but the borough is still lagging behind the rest of the country.

According to NHS Tower Hamlets' Senior Public Health Strategist, Judith Shankleman, breast cancer victims are seven times more likely to live more than five years if they are screened early on, before the cancer has spread.

She told the Advertiser: "Although breast cancer is less common in Tower Hamlets than in many other parts of the country, survival is worse. This is because cancer survival is heavily dependent on the stage of cancer at diagnosis.

"Within our community we are aware that people sometimes do not understand the importance of early screening and there is a problem with accessing services.

"We are now investing in a raft of initiatives to improve early diagnosis and survival from all cancers - and especially breast cancer."

The study also revealed 67 per cent of bowel cancer sufferers are likely to survive at least a year in Tower Hamlets compared to 65 per cent in Newham.

And 29 per cent of the East End's lung cancer victims are likely to live at least a year, compared to 25 per cent in Newham and 32 per cent in Hackney.

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