More women attend for regular breast screening

Published 11th October, 2004

2004 Annual Review

Statistics published today in the NHS Breast Screening Programme Annual Review 2004 show that, with over 80,000 more women attending for breast screening, the programme is reaching more women than ever before.

This increase is largely due to the expansion of the programme to invite all women in England for screening every three years from age 50 up to 70, rather than 64 as before.

Statistics for 2002/2003 also demonstrate that:

  • the total number of women screened this year rose from 1,461,517 in 2001/02 to 1,541,794.
  • the number of women aged 70 and over who are screened rose to 47,094 this year as the programme continues to encourage them to self refer.
  • the number of cancers detected by the programme in women aged over 50 continues to rise with 10,467 compared with 10,003 in 2001/02.
  • 4,877 invasive cancers less than 15mm were detected compared with 4,159 in 2001/02. These cancers are usually impossible to feel with the human hand and so screening has detected them before they would normally be found.

The rise in cancers detected also illustrates an increase in the quality of screening. The successful implementation of two-view mammography (where two views of the breast are taken at every screen instead of just at the first screen) is likely to have played a major role in achieving this.

Julietta Patnick, Director, NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: "This year's statistics show that women are benefiting from major changes to the breast screening programme. Following the implementation of two-views we are seeing an improvement in the quality of cancer detection. We are also seeing a significant increase in the total numbers of women screened due to the expansion of the programme to women up to and including age 70."

"The UK has one of the most effective breast screening programmes in the world and the successful implementation of age extension and two-view are proof of our commitment to continuing to provide women with access to a high quality service."