About breast screening

The NHS Breast Screening Programme began in 1988. It aims to invite all women aged from 50 up to their 71st birthday, for breast screening once every three years. Nationally the programme screens over 2 million women each year and diagnoses about 16,500 breast cancers annually. The NHS Breast Screening Programme is an effective part of the UK's efforts to reduce the death toll from breast cancer. The latest research shows the NHS Breast Screening Programme is now saving 1400 lives every year in England.

The screening programme also offers women 71 and over a free breast screen every three years. If you are 71 or over you may not be sent an invitation but are encouraged to call the unit to make an appointment that suits you.

The aim of breast screening is to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, often before the woman is aware of any problem. Early detection may mean simpler and more successful treatment. Scientific evidence shows that regular breast screening, between the ages of 50 and up to the 71st birthday, reduces the death rate from breast cancer. See the NHS Breast Screening Programme for more details.

To enable women to be screened closer to home, breast screening is carried out at a number of sites across the region.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme is subject to monitoring by the Screening Quality Assurance Service (SQAS). It ensures rigorous quality assurance standards are maintained.