NONE of Scotland’s hospitals have succeeded in meeting all the performance targets for the care of patients with breast cancer, a report says.
Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland assessed achievement against the 11 Quality Performance Indicators (QPIs) set for breast cancer care, and found that while overall performance against the indicators was “consistently high” across Scotland, no individual unit or board met all the targets.
Meanwhile, other figures released showed a drop in the percentage of women taking up invitations for breast cancer screenings.
The QPI report relates to the care of 4,754 breast cancer patients treated across Scotland in 2012. It is the first time this data has been collected.
In some areas the majority or all boards achieved the targets set, including ensuring women with small cancers had surgery which conserved the rest of their breast.
But in other areas performance fell well below standards.
Overall only 42 per cent of patients had information about whether their cancer was of the type known as HER-2 positive at the time their cancer team met to discuss their treatment, compared to a target of 90 per cent.
The report said HER-2 status had a significant impact on survival and so was an important influence on treatment decisions.
The report added that patients with HER-2 positive cancers should receive treatment with the drug Herceptin, but that only 84 per cent of patients received this against a target of 90 per cent. Only Grampian and Glasgow achieved the target.
A target for 85 per cent of patients with higher risk breast cancers to have chemotherapy after surgery was also missed, with only 62 per cent of patients receiving the treatment.
Factors influencing treatment
The report said in some cases the decisions on treatment may be influenced by patients’ own choice or by other factors which made them unsuitable for treatment.
James Jopling, Scotland director at the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “It is important that women with breast cancer receive the best possible care and treatment so we welcome the introduction of these performance measures.
“We expect them to play a key role in delivering a high quality service for women affected by breast cancer regardless of where they live in Scotland.”
The figures also revealed that uptake of breast cancer screening in women over 50 dropped from 74.5 per cent in 2009-12 to 73.5 per cent in 2010-13.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had an uptake rate at 68.8 per cent and was the only board not to achieve the 70 per cent target.
The figures also showed that in 2012/13, over 1,400 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in women through screening.
Of these over 80 per cent were invasive, of which over half were less than 15mm in size.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “The earlier cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat and more lives can be saved through early detection.
“While it is disappointing to see a slight decrease in uptake figures over the last three years, overall uptake of breast screening remains high, and I would urge all women aged 50 to 70 to participate in the Scottish Breast Screening Programme.”