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Breast screening programme reaches two million women

Almost 1.9 million women aged 45 and over were screened for breast cancer in England during 2010-11, official figures show.

This compares to 1.3 million women who were screened in 2000-01, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre's (HCIC) Breast Screening Programme, England 2010-11.

HCIC attributes the rise to population growth and the expansion of the screening programme to include a wider range of age groups.

In 2001, the screening age bracket was raised from 50-64 to 65-70, and in 2007 a further extension was added, spanning women aged 47-73 years old.

The report shows 2.3 million women aged 50 to 70 were invited for screening in 2010-11, compared to 2.2 million in 2009-10.

Uptake of routine invitations for women aged 50 to 70 grew marginally during 2010-11 by 0.2% to reach 73.4 per cent, compared to the previous year.

“Our figures show the number of women screened for breast cancer in England as part of the national programme was approaching two million in 2010-11,” said HCIC Chief Executive Tim Straughan.

“The expansion of the programme is clear to see from the rise in numbers screened in a decade.

“The information included in today's report is vital to informing policy and monitoring the quality and effectiveness of screening services.”

Nearly 15,000 cancers were detected in women aged 45 and over through screening in 2010-11; a rate of 7.8 women per every 1,000 screened.

This compares to 14,230 in 2009-10; a rate of 7.9 per 1,000 and to 8,345 in 2000-01; a rate of 6.4 per 1,000 women screened.

Just over 40% (5,945) of detected cancers in 2010-11 were said to be invasive (meaning they had spread into surrounding, healthy tissues) and less than 15mm across.

This size is usually too small to detect by hand.

Question: How can the number of women screened for breast cancer further increase?