11 March 2024

Almost 1,500 Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors have missed out on promised MRI checks for breast cancer, the Government has revealed.

The women concerned were patients who received radiotherapy above the waist when aged between 10 and 35 years old during 1962 to 2003.

Guidance published in 2003 said these women should be receiving annual MRI checks. However, the Department of Health identified in September last year that some of these women were left out of the group of ‘very high risk’ women offered these scans.

NHS England has now written to the 1,487 women telling them of the omission and promising a scan within the next three months.

Speaking to Parliament this week, Health Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “I would like to inform the House that on Monday 4th March, NHS England wrote to a group of women who are at Very High Risk of breast cancer who have been eligible for annual MRI checks, but who may not have been routinely referred to the annual tests recommended in NHS guidance.

“This is an historic cohort of women who from 1962 to 2003 received radiotherapy treatment above the waist to treat Hodgkin lymphoma.”

NHS England director for screening Steve Russell said: “While most of these women are already enrolled in the NHS Breast Screening Programme for regular mammograms, all women affected will now be offered support and invited for an annual MRI, and in most cases an annual mammogram, as soon as possible – the NHS will aim to complete this within three months.   

“We would like to extend our sincere apologies to those affected for any additional worry this may have caused – anyone who has had prior radiotherapy to their chest for the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma and who is concerned they have not been invited for an annual MRI can call our dedicated helpline for support and further information.”  

Source: NHS England



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