The NHS Breast Screening Programme provides free breast screening every three years for all women aged 50 and over. Because the programme is a rolling one which invites women from GP practices in turn, not every woman receives an invitation as soon as she is 50. But she will receive her first invitation before her 53rd birthday. Once women reach the upper age limit for routine invitations for breast screening, they are encouraged to make their own appointment.
The programme is now phasing in an extension of the age range of women eligible for breast screening to those aged 47 to 73. This started in 2010 and is expected to be complete by 2016.
In September 2000, research was published which demonstrated that the NHS Breast Screening Programme had lowered mortality rates from breast cancer in the 55-69 age group1. In 2010, research undertaken by Stephen Duffy and others demonstrated that the benefit of mammographic screening in terms of lives saved is greater than the harm in terms of overdiagnosis. Between 2 and 2.5 lives are saved for every overdiagnosed case.
- NHSBSP home page
- Programme publications
About breast screening
- What is breast screening?
- What does the NHS Breast Screening Programme do?
- When was the NHS Breast Screening Programme set up?
- What happens at a breast screening unit?
- Why are women under 50 not routinely invited?
- Are women screened over the age of 70?
- Screening women at higher risk
- Does breast screening save lives?
- Does breast screening have any risks?
- What is Digital Mammography?
- Research in breast screening
- About breast cancer
- Programme logistics
- Frequently asked questions
- Programme statistics
- Mammography equipment reports
- Programme news index
- Useful links