Scottish breast screening programme detects 1,500 cases in 2008-09

In collaboration with Adfero

A new report has revealed that the NHS Breast Screening Programme detected nearly 1,500 cases of the disease in 2008-09 in Scotland.

Since 1991, the programme has screened over 2.3 million women in Scotland and has led to the diagnosis of approximately 17,000 breast cancers.

The latest statistics, which are published by ISD Scotland, show that about three-quarters of women who were invited to attend screening in 2008-09 accepted their invitation.

Attendance exceeded the minimum target of over 70 per cent across all Scottish NHS boards and Shetland was found to have the highest attendance rate (87 per cent).

The data show that the likelihood of a woman attending breast screening is influenced by her socioeconomic background.

About 82 per cent of women from the wealthiest areas of Scotland attend breast screening when invited, compared with just 64 per cent from the most deprived communities.

The report also reveals that, of approximately 1,200 invasive cancers detected via screening in 2008-09, half were less than 15mm in size - so small that the affected women would probably not have noticed a lump.

Shona Robison, Scottish minister for public health, said that the Scottish Breast Screening Programme is one of the reasons why more and more people are living with and beating cancer.

The minister noted that the upper age range for breast screening was raised from 64 to 70 in 2003 in Scotland and that more cancers than ever before are now being detected via screening.

"This early intervention means the NHS can take action against more cancers earlier, saving more lives - and women who are over 70 can continue to refer themselves for screening," she pointed out.

"Screening in Scotland has continued to exceed its cancer detection targets, helping contribute to a 23 per cent fall in breast cancer mortality between 1994 and 2005," Ms Robison continued.

"The programme has also introduced 'two-view' screening - where women have two mammographic views of their breast taken - and from March 2010 this is now used in all health boards across the country."

Hazel Nunn, Cancer Research UK's senior health information manager, said: "Breast screening saves lives, so it is really encouraging to see that the target's being met in Scotland. However there are still many women who do not attend for screening and we would encourage everyone who receives an invitation to do so. Breast screening - where women have a mammogram - can detect cancer at an early stage when it is often easier to treat and is estimated to save more than 1,000 lives in the UK each year.

"As well as attending screening, it's important that all women are breast aware and go to their doctor if they notice any unusual changes to their breasts."