Nearly 2m women attended breast screening in 2007/08

In collaboration with the Press Association

The number of women attending breast screening has risen, with nearly two million accepting invitations from the NHS Breast Screening Programme in 2007/08, new figures show.

The programme's 2009 annual review shows that 1,994,651 women aged 50 to 70 attended screening in 2007/08, up by 93,418 on the previous year.

Over 73 per cent of the 2.5 million women who received an invitation attended their appointment.

The total number of invitations for screening has also increased - by just over 100,000 women - thanks in part to the fact that units in Bolton, King's College London, Coventry, Manchester and Guildford have started to include women from a wider age group in their screening programmes.

These units are piloting an extension of the screening age ahead of a nationwide roll-out, which will ultimately see all women between the ages of 47 and 73 years receiving invitations for screening.

The increase in screening has been accompanied by a rise in the number of cancers detected.

A total of 16,449 cancers were detected through screening in 2007/08, compared with 14,753 in 2006/07.

Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, commented: "It's encouraging to see the growing number of women being screened for breast cancer. More cancers are being diagnosed by the programme and this means we are helping more women than ever before through early detection and diagnosis.

"Over the past year we have been working hard to implement the age extension to include women between 47 and 73 years old. The extension will guarantee all women will be screened at least once before the age of 50," she added.

Ed Yong, Cancer Research UK's head of health information, said: "We're pleased that more women have made the choice to attend screening this year. The screening programme saves around 1,400 lives each year and even more could be saved if attendance was higher."