Breast cancer screening uptake drops to lowest level in decade

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The number of women taking up breast screening has fallen to the lowest level in a decade, new figures show.

Just 71.1% of women in England aged 50 to 70 took up invitations for routine screening in 2016/17 – down 1% from the previous year.

The figure is the lowest in 10 years – in 2007, 73.6% of women attended, according to NHS Digital data.

Around one in eight women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.

Screening aims to find cancer when it is too small to see or feel and is performed with a mammogram X-ray.

While there are some risks associated with this type of screening, it is routinely offered to all women aged 50 to 70 every three years.

The new data shows that the number of women invited for screening has increased by more than half a million in the last decade and last year 2.59 million were invited for a mammogram.

Of these, 1.84 million attended screening.

The figures show that uptake was highest in the East Midlands where three quarters of women attended screening.

It was lowest in London where 64% attended.

The report on breast screening uptake in England shows that 18,402 cancers were detected in 2016/17.

Of all women with cancers detected through screening in 2016-17, 41.5% had invasive but small cancers which are less than 15mm in diameter and are usually too small to detect by hand.

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