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24.02.16

Breast cancer screening invitation uptake falling – HSCIC

The proportion of women accepting invitations to attend breast cancer screenings is falling, the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has found.

The HSCIC’s new report says that 71.3% (1.75 million) of women aged 50-70 who received an invitation to be screened for breast cancer took it up in 2014-15. This number has fallen for the fourth successive year, from 72.1% in 2013-14.

The national minimum standard is 70%, and the target is 80%. Uptake was highest in the East Midlands at 75.9% and lowest in London (62.6%) and the north west (69.3%).

However, the overall number of screenings has risen to 2.11 million compared to 2.08 million last year, due to an increase in the number of invitations being sent out, from 2.74 million in 2013-14 to 2.8 million in 2014-15, and an increase in self and GP referrals from 115,000 to 121,000. This is thought to be due to the expansion of the NHS Breast Screening Programme to a wider age range, and awareness raising campaigns such as Be Clear on Cancer.

Pritpal Rayat, the statistician behind the HSCIC report, said: “All of us know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, be it a friend, an aunt, a sister, a mother. This report sheds light on the important programme that can detect this disease early.”

According to the data, women were less likely to accept an invitation to be screened if it was their first one, with 63.3% attending screenings compared to 65.8% in 2013-14. However, 86.4% who had already been screened took up the invitation. Screening rates were lowest (19.2%) among women who had ignored screening invitations in the past.

In total, 18,015 women had cancers detected by the screening programme, an increase from 17,961 in 2013-14.

The news comes after the Cancer Drugs Fund cut funding for 16 medicines, including those used in breast cancer treatment.

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