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Proportion of women taking up breast screening invitations falls

The proportion of women aged 50-70 taking up routine breast screening invitations fell to 70.5% in 2017-18, down from 71.1% in 2016-17 and from 73.2% in 2007-08. The acceptable level of uptake is 70 per cent.

The proportion of women aged 50-70 taking up routine breast screening invitations fell to 70.5% in 2017-18, down from 71.1% in 2016-17 and from 73.2% in 2007-08. The acceptable level1 of uptake is 70 per cent.

The Breast Screening Programme England, 2017-18 report, published today by NHS Digital shows that:

  • 2.54 million women aged 50-70 were invited for breast screening in England during 2017-18. This compares with 2.59 million in 2016-17 and 2.17 million in 2007-08.
  • Of these, 1.79 million women were screened by the programme in 2017-18. This compares with 1.84 million in 2016-17 and 1.59 million in 2007-08.

According to the report, uptake2 by women aged 50-70 fell in most reporting regions in 2017-18 when compared with the previous year3.

The report shows that uptake was highest in the East Midlands at 73.6%.

Uptake was above the national minimum standard of 70% in all but two regions4; London, where it was 63.3% and the North West at 69.8%.

Coverage5, which is measured for women aged 53-70, dropped slightly to 74.9% in 2017-18, from 75.4% in 2016-17.

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.

Outcomes from assessment remained broadly similar to 2016-17 (measured for women aged 45 and over). Of all 18,000 women with cancers detected7 through screening in 2017-18, 40.1 per cent (7,200 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 41.5 per cent (7,600 women) in 2016-178.


Read the full report

Breast Screening Programme, England 2017-18

Notes to editors

  1. The performance thresholds are set by the breast screening programme, visit NHS BSP standards
  2. Uptake is the percentage of women invited for screening in the year, who were screened adequately within six months of invitation.
  3. Refers only to women who have received a routine invite to screening, it does not include short term recalls or GP and self-referrals.
  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 2018 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 100,000 are rounded to the nearest hundred.
  8. In May 2018 it was announced that a serious incident had been identified with the breast screening programme. The issue resulted in the failure to send invitations to some women who were due to receive their final screen (in the 36 months before their 71st birthday), between 2009 and 2018. A full independent review was carried out, as was an internal review by Public Health England. Activity in this publication reflects the position as it occurred rather than as intended. Those women who should have received invitations, but did not, are therefore not included in the activity figures. Changes introduced by the Programme in those who are invited for screening were made after March 2018 and will be reflected in the publication for 2018-19 data.


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Last edited: 10 October 2019 11:08 am