Waiting times for breast cancer treatment in Bolton are below national targets.

Statistics released by NHS England for October 2019 show that breast cancer patients have to wait longer than patients with any other type of cancer, with only 60 per cent of patients receiving treatment within 62 days of their GP referral under Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, compared to a national target of 85 per cent.

Additionally, 87.5 per cent of breast cancer patients have their first treatment within 31 days of diagnosis, while all patients with other types of cancer were treated within this time, meeting the national target of 96 per cent.

Andy Ennis, Chief Operating Officer, said : “We’re working hard to ensure we meet every national target but for now are having to do some prioritisation.

"Our feedback from patients continues to be extremely positive and the breast team at Bolton care passionately about providing an excellent service for our patients.”

The number of referrals for breast services has increased, and a shortage of specialist staff has made it difficult to meet targets.

Only 7.6 per cent of the 132 people with breast symptoms not suspected to be cancer were seen by a specialist within 14 days – most patients, 62, were seen within 22 to 28 days, with a further 39 seen after 28 days.

A spokesperson for the Trust said that reasons for missing the targets included increased demand compared to capacity, patient complexity, and patient choice.

They also assured patients that clinicians are keeping track of those waiting for treatment to ensure those with the most urgent needs are seen most quickly.

Overall, 95 per cent of people suspected of having breast cancer were seen by a specialist within 14 days, exceeding the national target of 93 per cent.

Referral letters where the GP did not suspect cancer were reviewed by a specialist for a second opinion.

Tell your GP if you notice any changes to your breast, although nine out of ten people with these symptoms will not have breast cancer.

Symptoms to look out for include

• A lump in the breast or the armpit

• Dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast

• Bloody or clear liquid coming from one nipple

• A flaky or scaly rash over one of the nipples

• A nipple that is turned in or inverted when it previously stuck out (some women have inverted nipples naturally, so it is a new inversion that is of concern)