Women who live in poor areas are less likely to have their breasts screened for signs of cancer, officials said.
Public Health England (PHE) said that there is a lower uptake of breast screening in more deprived regions of the country.
Researchers from PHE and King’s College London, who examined data concerning almost 160,000 women aged 50 to 52, found that only 59% of women who live in deprived neighbourhoods attended their first breast cancer screening appointment, compared to 73% of those living in more affluent areas.
“It’s worrying that breast cancer screening uptake is different depending on the deprivation of the area women live in,” said lead author Ruth Jack, an epidemiologist at PHE London.
“We need to make sure that things like cost of travel and having time away from work aren’t making it harder for women from more deprived areas to go for screening.
“Any initiatives that have improved attendance in women in deprived areas or from particular ethnic groups should be shared across London and the country.”
Dr Hannah Bridges, from the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, added: “This study adds to our concerns that women in more deprived areas may be less likely to attend their breast screening appointments.
“We know that breast screening saves 1,300 lives every year. As such, it is imperative that screening services work with local communities to understand potential barriers, help women to understand the importance of screening and make it easier for them to attend.
“Breakthrough Breast Cancer recommends that women invited for breast screening take up their appointment as we know that overall the potential life-saving benefits outweigh the risks.”
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