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AROUND 270 women may have died after a computer error prevented them from being notified of their final breast cancer screenings.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised and announced the setting up of an independent inquiry.

These sessions were conducted with the support of CPAA - Cancer Patients Aid Association, and women were taught how to perform a breast self-examination at home, before giving them the purses that serve as a reminder. Issues included the method by which age parameters are programmed into it, Mr Hunt said.

The Daily Express says "hundreds" of women may have died after they missed out on breast cancer screening.

Women in Scotland are not affected by the error because it has a different IT system.

He said the problem was spotted in January by Public Health England after an upgrade to the breast screening invitation IT system.

Samia al Qadhi is chief executive of Breast Cancer Care - the charity partner of this year's OVO Energy Women's Tour which passes through Suffolk.

The 309,000 women thought to be affected by the issue will be contacted by the NHS this week.

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Women who are concerned about whether they had missed a screening can call 0800 169 2692.

He said any woman who wanted a mammogram would get one within six months, and it was a priority to make sure additional scans did not cause any delays in the screening programme for other women.

"The fact is that for many years, oversight of our screening program has not been good enough", Hunt said. Because of a glitch in the algorithm, many women around the age of 70 did not get an invitation for their final screening.

GPs' leaders said they were "shocked" to learn of the error and said the implications for Global Positioning System would potentially be "significant".

"We encourage women who have been invited for screening to see it as an important step in helping to look after their health, and to therefore continue to attend for screening if invited".

Some women who live in Wales who are registered, or have been registered, with an English GP may be affected and will be contacted. An IT error is believed to be the root of the problem.

Breast cancer survivor Katherine Simpson-Jacobs, who is from Ipswich and has written a book about how to break the news of a diagnosis to children, said this mistake would have put added financial pressure on the NHS.

Hunt responded: "I'm afraid she is absolutely right and the truth is we do have a quality assurance programme and it failed to pick this problem up for far too long so we need to understand why that happened".