NHS breast cancer screening 2018-2019 shows 26.0% increase in ten years

2.23m women aged 45 and over were screened for breast cancer in 2018-19, a 4.5% increase on 2017-18 (2.14m), and a 26.0% increase since 2008-09 (1.77m).

The greatest increases are in the over-70 age range, where 218,000 women were screened for breast cancer in 2018-19, a 51.2% increase on 2017-18 (144,000) due, at least in part, to invites sent to women who had not previously received a final invitation.

For women aged 50 to 70, the number of women screened increased by 1.8%, from 1.83m in 2017-18 to 1.87m in 2018-19.

The Breast Screening Programme, England, 2018-19 provides information on the coverage, screening activity, number and uptake of invitations, as well as the outcome of screening and the rate of cancer detection of the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

Coverage

Coverage, which is measured for women aged 53-70, dropped slightly to 74.6% in 2018-19, from 74.9% in 2017-18.

Coverage figures are based on the proportion of the eligible population screened within the last three years.

Therefore, coverage is affected by population fluctuations and screening activity over a three-year period - so changes in coverage may not directly mirror changes in the number of invites or screens in a given year.

Uptake

Uptake of routine invitations for women aged 50 to 70 was 71.1% in 2018-19 (1.82m women), up from 70.5% in 2017-18 (1.79m).

The report shows that uptake was highest in the North East sub region at 75.3%.

Uptake was above the national minimum standard of 70% in all regions except London, where it was 64.0% and the North West, where it was 69.5%.

Outcomes

In 2018-19, 84,559 women aged 45 and over were referred for assessment following screening. The total proportion of women aged 45 and over that were referred for assessment fell from 3.9% in 2017-18 to 3.8% in 2018-19.

Cancer detection

In the core cohort of women aged 50-70, cancer detection remained broadly similar, with an increase in rate from 8.1 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18, to 8.2 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19.

In the wider cohort, the number of women aged 45 and over with cancers detected increased from 18,001 in 2017-18 to 19,558 in 2018-19.  This is an increase in the rate of cancers detected from 8.4 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18 to 8.8 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19.

The greatest increases are in the 71 to 74 age range (13.4 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18, to 14.1 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19) and the 75 and over age range (17.4 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18, to 18.8 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19).

Under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, eligible 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.

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