Women should get ANNUAL breast cancer scans, says government women’s health czar

Women should get ANNUAL breast cancer scans, says government women’s health czar

  • UK breast screening program has the longest gap between screens
  • In the USA it is every one or two years and in Europe every two years

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Offering women annual breast cancer screenings could save 1,000 lives a year, the women’s health czar has said.

Dame Lesley Regan said the current system of screening women aged 50 to 70 once every three years “is not based on scientific evidence”.

The UK’s breast screening program has the longest gap between screens in the world.

In the United States it is every one or two years and in Europe every two years.

Dame Lesley Regan said the current system of screening women aged 50 to 70 once every three years “is not based on scientific evidence”.

Dame Lesley, who is also a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Imperial College London, said the decision to give women mammograms once every three years was based on the budgets available at the time screening was introduced. in the late 1980s, but more recent studies showed that annual checkups would save lives.

‘Yes [someone] you have a mammogram that is reported as normal today and you developed, for example, a precancerous lesion next month, then you will be waiting [until her next check]when it might as well have become invasive, in the belief that she is fine,’ he said at the launch of the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index in London yesterday.

“If you get an annual mammogram, and I appreciate that it’s an expensive resource, there are some really good studies showing how many lives you save.”

Dame Lesley said that precancerous or very early-onset lesions, which can be detected by screening, were curable.

The UK's breast screening program has the longest gap between screens in the world.  In the USA it is every one or two years and in Europe every two years

The UK's breast screening program has the longest gap between screens in the world.  In the USA it is every one or two years and in Europe every two years

The UK’s breast screening program has the longest gap between screens in the world. In the USA it is every one or two years and in Europe every two years

She revealed that she had personally experienced ‘several cases’ of such injuries, but was now confident that she would ‘die of something else’ because they had been caught early.

The NHS needed to be “much more innovative” in tackling breast cancer, such as using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to read mammograms, as there was a chronic shortage of radiologists, he said.

The women’s health ambassador also criticized the UK’s recent record on preventing cervical cancer.

‘I really think it’s shameful that women have cervical cancer in this day and age… Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. We have a vaccine, which is incredibly effective, and we have a screening program that we are leading the world on,” she said.

“The sadness, I think, is in the fact that we now have the lowest acceptance of projections in the last 20 years.

“And that’s really a problem that translates to a lot of advanced cancers by 2040, which is not that far off.”

Figures from the NHS show that around 69.9 per cent of women aged 25-64 attended cervical cancer checks, also called smear tests, in 2021/22, a slight decrease from 70.2 percent of the previous year.

While government data shows uptake of the HPV vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer, fell by 7% for girls and 8.7% for boys in 2021/22 compared to with the previous year.

Studies have shown that 15 percent of women put off going to cervical screening appointments because they can’t take time off work.

What women are eligible for breast cancer screening? And how it works? All you need to know

What is breast cancer screening?

Screening is a procedure that allows doctors to detect breast cancer while it is still in its infancy and is therefore easier to treat.

This is an x-ray test, known as a mammogram, to detect signs of cancer that are too small to see or feel.

The results of the mammogram will be sent to the woman and her GP within two weeks. About 5 percent will be called in for further testing.

Who is eligible?

Any woman concerned about the possibility of breast cancer can see her GP and be referred for screening.

But in recognition that the risk of getting breast cancer increases with age, all women between the ages of 50 and 70 who are registered with a GP should automatically be invited to get screened every three years.

Women are first invited to screening between the ages of 50 and 53, although in some areas they are invited from the age of 47 as part of a trial.

How are you invited?

The selection process is overseen by Public Health England, which uses an IT system to send out the invitations.

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