Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine will lead a major inquiry in Parliament this Spring on the subject of breast cancer.
The inquiry, which will explore access to treatment, services and support for older people with breast cancer, is being organised by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer and will be led by Mr Brine who is co-chair.
The group is backed by Breakthrough Breast Cancer and supported by the UK's leading breast cancer charities including Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Campaign.
Evidence for the inquiry will be collected from a range of first hand sources, including older breast cancer patients and their families, partners and carers. The All-Party Group will also be looking to speak with healthcare and social care professionals, cancer care commissioners, the Department of Health, academic researchers and voluntary organisations to ensure a thorough understanding of the current situation. It will also focus on surgery for breast cancer among older patients and will hear from renowned breast surgeon Dr Dick Rainsbury who is based at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester
Steve Brine said; "As a group we are deeply concerned by suggestions that older breast cancer patients are being denied access to the full treatment and support options that are available purely as a result of their age. By learning from those at the heart of this issue we hope to gain a clear picture on what barriers are currently preventing the best care and ways in which to eradicate them. 12,000 women a year die of breast cancer and we have always been focused as a group on driving down that number. This inquiry is part of that ongoing work.
"We are confident the response from people to the inquiry nationally, and I hope locally because we have a higher rate of breast cancer in this part of the country than almost anywhere else, will be huge and eventually play a part in saving lives."
Mr Brine and his co-chairs (Annette Brooke MP and Sharon Hodgson MP) recently met with Prime Minister David Cameron at No.10 Downing Street to discuss the fight against breast cancer and brief him on the inquiry. Mr Cameron has since publicly backed the initiative and has promised the Department for Health will engage with the inquiry and respond to its recommendations.
The Prime Minister said; "I am really pleased the all-party group are conducting this inquiry into older people with breast cancer and wish it well. We have made solid progress in fighting breast cancer in recent years but there is so much more to do. Of course we must do better with cancer outcomes across the board in this country and that absolutely includes breast cancer. I look forward to seeing the final report and the specific recommendations within it."
In a joint statement Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Campaign and Breast Cancer Care added; "The risk of breast cancer increases with age and currently more than 340,000 women aged 65 and over are living with this disease in the UK. With an aging population this number is expected to be four times higher by 2040. We are supporting this inquiry as it is vital to ensure older people with breast cancer have access to all treatment, information and support options now and in the future."
You can answer the call for evidence and be kept up to date with progress of the inquiry, via www.stevebrine.com/breastcancer and key recommendations from this inquiry will be published in summer 2013.
Pictured; Steve Brine with David Cameron and his co-chairs Annette Brooke and Sharon Hodgson as well as the Chief Executives of the three main breast cancer charities