Breast cancer ‘fall in proportion of women screened in England’

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Breast cancer: fall in proportion of women screened in England

The proportion of women screened for breast cancer in England has fallen slightly, latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show.

At 31 March 2013, 76.4 per cent of eligible women aged 53 to 70 (about 4.25 million women in total) had been screened within the last three years – a figure known as coverage(3). This compares to 77.0 per cent at the same point in 2012 and to 77.2 per cent in 2011.

This is the second year running that coverage has fallen, although the figure is still above the NHS Cancer Screening Programme’s minimum standard of 70 per cent.

Today’s report about the Breast Screening Programme in England also shows a fall for the second year running in annual uptake – the proportion of women invited for screening who are screened adequately within six months.

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

Today’s report includes data on those invited for breast screening, coverage, uptake of invitations, outcomes of screening and cancers detected. Considering coverage and uptake it also shows

Coverage at March 31 2013:

  • Coverage fell across all the 53-70 age groups compared to the previous year, with the exception of women aged 70, for whom coverage increased from 73.8 per cent to 74.2 per cent.
  • Coverage among women aged 53 to 70 was 70 per cent or above in all of England’s reporting regions apart from London, which reported coverage of 68.7 per cent.

Uptake in 2012-13:

  • Uptake was highest among women in the 60 to 70 age groups at just over 73 per cent and lowest among women aged 71 to 74 (which includes the programme’s age extension trial to women aged 71-73 years) at 66.7 per cent.
  • Uptake rates (considering the 50 to 70 age group) varied considerably according to the type of invitation. Uptake was lowest among those women who received a routine invitation having failed to respond to a previous invitation(s) – at 17.7 per cent.
  • Uptake (considering the 50 to 70 age group) fell in seven of eight reporting regions in 2012-13 compared with the previous year, with only London seeing an increase. However all regions but London (at 63.3 per cent) remained on or above the 70 per cent minimum standard.

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.

“Today’s figures point to a fall in the proportion of women who are taking up their screening invitation for the second year running – and while this is a relatively small fall in percentage terms – it is nevertheless a vital piece of information for health professionals and the public.”

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