Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Data reveals slight fall in women attending breast screening


There has been a drop in the percentage of women being screened for breast cancer, NHS figures show.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) for England reveals 76.4% of women aged 53 to 70 (about 4.25 million) had been screened within the previous three years.

The figure was calculated as of March 31, 2013, and is down on the 77% who had been screened at the same point in 2012 and the 77.2% in 2011.

The NHS Cancer Screening Programme says 70% of women should be screened as a minimum. In London, coverage was 68.7%.

The centre’s report, published today, also showed a fall for the second year running in annual uptake - the proportion of women invited for screening who are screened adequately within six months.

“Early detection and regular screening saves lives and we encourage women to attend their appointment”

Julietta Patnick

In 2012-13, 72.2% of women aged 50 to 70 (about 1.68 million women) took up their invitation compared to 73.1% in 2011-12 and 73.4% in 2010-11.

Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: “We are disappointed to see that the latest figures for 2012-13 show a slight fall in the number of eligible women, aged 53 to 70, taking up their breast screening appointments.

Professor Julietta Patnick

Professor Julietta Patnick

“Early detection and regular screening saves lives and we encourage women to attend their appointment. Women are routinely screened in England between the ages of 50 to 70.

“Women aged 71 to 74 are not routinely invited for screening, and those aged 71 to 73 are being invited as part of a research trial currently being carried out by Public Health England.

“This trial is looking at the benefits and harms of screening women aged 71 to 73, and also of screening women aged 47 to 49.”

HSCIC chief executive, Alan Perkins, said: “It goes without saying that the impact of breast cancer on people and their families can be severe and life-changing − this is why data included in today’s report is so enormously important in trying to monitor, evaluate and understand the use and outcomes of the NHS Breast Screening programme in England.”

“It is concerning to see screening rates have dropped very slightly”

Jane Ellison

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: “Detecting breast cancer early gives women the best chance of survival so it is concerning to see screening rates have dropped very slightly.

“It is crucial that women have the right information to help them choose whether or not to attend screening, that’s why we send out clear information setting out the risks and benefits with every invitation.

Jane Ellison

Health minister Jane Ellison

“We want to be world leaders in treating cancer, and the government’s £750m cancer strategy aims to save an additional 5,000 lives per year.

“A £12m-a-year trial is looking at increasing the age of breast screening to women aged up to 73, and our current Be Clear On Cancer campaign is informing women that they are still at risk of breast cancer when they are aged over 70.”

Mia Rosenblatt, head of policy and campaigns at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “Although there has been a small decline in the proportion of women attending breast screening, it is encouraging to see that confidence in the screening programme remains strong, with almost two million women attending a screening appointment during the year.

“An independent review on breast screening concluded that it saves lives but also noted the risk of overtreatment as a result of screening,” she added.

“It’s therefore welcome that women are now receiving more detailed information to support them to make an informed decision about whether to attend screening.”



Are you able to Speak out Safely?

Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS


Readers' comments (2)

  • tinkerbell

    when I first attended for breast screening I thought this isn't so bad, as some of my colleagues said it was pretty painful not realising that they hadn't yet put the full sqeeze on. The full squeeze was vice like.

    Thankfully my results were NAD but I couldn't help but wonder if squeezing your boobs in a vice like grip might also be harmful.

    Also a bit concerned about the misdiagnosing but suppose ultimately it's better to have early detection.

    For myself I will keep up my own self examination rather than go for another one of those unless I have reason to.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have heard that once you can palpate nodules in the breast if they are cancerous they will probably have metastasised by this time. the advantage of breast screening is earlier diagnosis.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.