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Uptake for routine breast screening falls

The proportion of women aged 50-70 taking up routine breast screening invitations fell to 71.1 per cent in 2016-17 down from 72.1 per cent in 2015-16 and 73.6 per cent in 2006-07. It is at the lowest rate over the 10 year period.

The Breast Screening Programme England, 2016-17 report published today by NHS Digital1 shows that:

  • 2.59 million women aged 50-70 were invited for breast screening in England during 2016-17. This compares with 2.48 million in 2015-16 and 2.07 million in 2006-07.
  • Of these, 1.84 million women were screened by the programme in 2016-17. This compares with 1.79 million in 2015-16 and 1.52 million in 2006-07.

According to the report, uptake2 by women aged 50-70 fell in all seven reporting regions3 in 2016-17 when compared with the previous year.

The report shows that uptake was highest in the East Midlands at 75.2 per cent.

Uptake was above the national minimum standard4 of 70 per cent in all regions except the North West and London, where it was 68.8 per cent and 64.0 per cent respectively.

Coverage5, which is measured for women aged 53-70, remained relatively static for the third year in a row at 75.4 per cent (4.48 million of 5.95 million) in 2016-17, and remains above the NHS Cancer Screening Programme's minimum standard of 70 per cent. This compares with 75.5 per cent (4.40 million of 5.83 million) in 2015-16 and 73.8 per cent (3.74 million of 5.07 million) in 2006-07.

Under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, eligible6 women will usually receive their first routine invitation for breast cancer screening between the ages of 50 and 53 and will normally be invited every three years until they are 70.

Of all women with cancers detected through screening in 2016-17, 41.5 per cent (7,600 women) had invasive but small cancers which are less than 15mm in diameter and are usually too small to detect by hand. This compares with 41.2 per cent (7,500 women) in 2015-16.


Breast Screening Programme England, 2016-17 is available on the NHS Digital website.

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1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals and citizens depend. During the 2016/17 financial year, NHS Digital published 292 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better. The Health and Social Care Information Centre is a non-departmental body created by statute, also known as NHS Digital. We provide 'Information and Technology for better health and care'. Find out more about our role and remit

2. Uptake is the percentage of women invited for screening in the year, who were screened adequately within six months of invitation.

3. For more information on the national minimum standards, visit NHS England.

4. The seven reporting regions are;

  • North East, Yorkshire & the Humber (NEYH),
  • North West,
  • East Midlands,
  • West Midlands,
  • East of England,
  • London,
  • South.

5. Coverage is defined as the percentage of women in the population who are eligible for screening at a particular point in time (31 March 2017 in this instance), who have had a test with a recorded result within the last three years. Currently, coverage is best assessed using the 53-70 age group as all women aged 50-70 are invited for screening every three years and may be first called at any time between their 50th and 53rd birthdays.

6. A woman is eligible if she has not had a double mastectomy.

7. Uptake coverage and cancers detected figures are presented as percentages and are rounded to one decimal place. All Figures over a million are rounded to the nearest 10,000. All figures between 1,000 and 10,000 are rounded to the nearest hundred.