Published 30th October, 2000
NHS Breast Screening Programme Annual Review 2000 show that the screening programme now exceeds the performance of the original Swedish two counties study on which the programme was originally based in all screening rounds.
The results demonstrate that the programme is improving overall year on year. The number of small cancers detected, which should help to improve women's chances of survival, has increased - as has the number of cancers detected.
- The screening programme has, for the first time, exceeded the performance of the original Swedish trials for women attending for their second, or subsequent screen. The standardised detection ratio (SDR) now stands at 1.06 compared with 0.98 last year and 1.0 in the trials. The overall SDR rose again and is now 13 per cent higher than in the original Swedish trials.
- The programme has detected more cancers than ever before, 8,771 cancers (6.24 per 1000) an increase of ten per cent on 1997/98, but the number of benign biopsies fell. This indicates the programme is improving both its sensitivity and specificity at the same time.
- 3,722 cancers smaller than 15mm were detected - an increase of 11 per cent on 1997/98. Cancers smaller than 15mm are impossible to feel with the human hand, therefore screening has found these cancers before they would normally be identified. Detecting these cancers through screening means that they will be treated earlier and gives women a greater chance of survival.
- Most of the cancers detected by the programme are found in women returning for re-screening (5,049). This emphasises the importance of repeat screens.
- The number of women aged 65 and over who are screened has risen again and now is over 100,000 (103,476). This is more than four times as many as in the early 1990s. It reflects the pilots of inviting women aged 65-69 for screening and also the increasing awareness of these older women, many of whom had attended for screening when they were under 65.
- In total 1,290,126 women over 50 years of age accepted the invitation to be screened - a slight increase in the overall acceptance rate from 75.1 per cent (1997/98) to 75.5 per cent (1998/00).
Commenting on the launch of the Review, Julietta Patnick, National Coordinator of the NHS Breast Screening Programme, said:
"The breast screening programme in this country is continuing to develop and meet the challenge of the ever increasing number of women requiring screening. Our quality, defined by our cancer detection rate, is continuing to improve year on year and the first review of mortality figures shows that we are beginning to see the effect of the screening programme on the death rates from breast cancer."
"We are now entering an exciting new phase for the programme. We have shown that we can produce high quality work and we are moving to extend the programme to include women up to 70. At the same time, we will be extending our use of 'double view' mammography from each woman's first screening only, to include all subsequent screenings. The effectiveness of this approach has exceeded our expectations and we anticipate its use will increase our cancer detection rates still further."
"The material presented in the review emphasises the importance of screening for women over the age of 50 and, while breast screening does not prevent women from developing breast cancer, it reduces their risk of dying from it."
A downloadable PDF version of the NHS Breast Screening Programme Annual Review 2000 is available. Press copies of the Annual Review are available from the press office on 020 7400 4499.
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