2.23m women aged 45 and over were screened for breast cancer in England in 2018-19, a 4.5% increase on the 2.14m in 2017-18, and a 26.0% increase since 2008-09 when the figure stood at 1.77m, official figures show.
The greatest increases were in the over-70 age range, where 218,000 women were screened for breast cancer in 2018-19, a 51.2% increase on 2017-18 (144,000) due, at least in part, to invites being sent to women who had previously missed out on receiving a final invitation.
Under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, eligible women will usually receive their first routine invitation for breast cancer screening between the ages of 50 and 53 and will normally be invited every three years until they are 70.
For women aged 50 to 70, the number of women screened increased by 1.8%, from 1.83m in 2017-18 to 1.87m in 2018-19. As a three yearly screening programme, official coverage figures for the NHS Breast Screening Programme are based on the 53-70 age group and coverage dropped slightly to 74.6% in 2018-19, from 74.9% in 2017-18.
Uptake of routine invitations by women aged 50 to 70 was 71.1% in 2018-19, up from 70.5% in 2017-18. Uptake was highest in the North East sub region at 75.3% and above the national minimum standard of 70% in all regions except London, where it was 64.0% and the North West, where it was 69.5%.
In 2018-19, 84,559 women aged 45 and over were referred for assessment following screening. The total proportion of women aged 45 and over that were referred for assessment fell from 3.9% in 2017-18 to 3.8% in 2018-19.
In the core cohort of women aged 50-70, cancer detection remained broadly similar, with an increase in rate from 8.1 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18, to 8.2 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19. In the wider cohort, the number of women aged 45 and over with cancers detected increased from 18,001 in 2017-18 to 19,558 in 2018-19. This is an increase in the rate of cancers detected from 8.4 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18 to 8.8 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19.
The greatest increases are in the 71 to 74 age range (13.4 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18, to 14.1 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19) and the 75 and over age range (17.4 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2017-18, to 18.8 cases per 1,000 women screened in 2018-19).