Breast cancer screening take-up rates could rise if nurses and other healthcare professionals were better trained to discuss fears their patients might have about the procedure.
A study by the Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust discovered that many women chose not to attend mammogram appointments because they are scared, anxious and embarrassed.
The Newcastle-centred study examined reasons why some women fail to attend breast cancer screening appointments while others do not.
The researchers discovered that even in deprived areas, which traditionally have low breast cancer screening rates, the difference in uptake between GP practices could be as much as 10%.
Another reason given for why women might not get their breasts checked for tumours or abnormal growths was because they thought they would never develop cancer.
Their findings were presented at a recent National Cancer Research Institute cancer conference in Liverpool.
Lead author Julie Tucker said: “Our results show that more must be done to tackle the low uptake of screening and poor awareness of breast cancer symptoms.
“We must ensure that GPs, nurses and health professionals feel able to talk to women about the pros and cons of breast screening as well as what signs and symptoms they need to look out for.”