A health boss has criticised a cancer screening service after it emerged women are more likely to die of breast cancer in Sutton than in any other London borough.
New figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that Sutton has the highest mortality rate in London when it comes to the killer disease.
For every 100,000 people in Sutton 31.1 women die of breast cancer - the most common cancer in the UK. It is closely followed by Hillingdon (30.2) and Hounslow (29.9).
The South West London Breast Screening Service (SWLBSS), which is used by Sutton, Merton, Croydon, Wandsworth, Kingston and Richmond, has been criticised by Ellis Friedman, director of public health at Sutton Council, after it failed to achieve key performance targets and is currently under-performing.
However, St George’s Hospital in Tooting, which runs the SWLBSS said the new data contradicts that from the Cancer Intelligence Network which they rely on.
Sutton Council is pressing organisations responsible for commissioning the screening service to produce a timetabled plan to deliver improvements.
Breast screening equipment
Ellis Friedman, director of public health at Sutton Council, said: "It is disappointing that rates of breast cancer are high in Sutton because it demonstrates that the Sutton population is not benefitting as much from screening and treatment advances as other parts of London.
"Although Sutton has experienced a welcome fall in death rates from breast cancer in recent years we have underperformance in other areas.
"It is clear that the South West London Breast Screening Service which Croydon, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth, is under performing and not achieving some key performance targets."
A spokesman for St George’s NHS trust said: "Breast screening is aimed at catching cancer early and the SWLBSS has one of the highest detection rates in the UK.
"The incidence of breast cancer in Sutton is virtually identical to the rest of the country.
"There are several areas where we have been marginally underperforming around waiting times but these have no impact on mortality rates and we are working hard to resolve them."
Mia Rosenblatt, head of policy and campaigns at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: "It’s important we understand more about the reasons behind Sutton’s higher breast cancer mortality rate so that they can be appropriately addressed.
"Diagnosing and treating breast cancer early, through breast screening and breast awareness, is crucial to increasing women’s chances of survival so we urge everyone to get to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, understand what’s normal for you and see a GP if you spot any changes."
The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of beating it.
Another charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer is dedicated to helping women stay breast aware.
They have given their top tips, their 'touch look check' method, for picking up on the most common signs of breast cancer:
• Skin texture
• Appearance or direction of nipple
• Nipple discharge
• Rash or crusting
For more information visit: breakthrough.org.uk/tlc