Lower risk better off not screening for breast cancer

Researchers at University College London have claimed that women who are at lower risk of breast cancer would be better off not being invited for NHS screening.

Suggesting that screening for breast cancer according to risk would reduce the number of women who are put through unnecessary tests and treatment, the research says that this would still limit an increase in the number of patients who are missed.

At present, only 72 per cent of women invited to breast screening actually attend. UCL state that selective screening would do more good than harm, reducing over-diagnosis and stress to women and proving more cost-effective for the NHS.

Researchers say that genetic testing and informing each women of her individual risk could result in just the 70 per cent at highest risk being screened, while the low risk 30 per cent are not given an invitation to have a mammogram every three years as they are now. The screening of risk is currently only in relation to age.

Routine genetic testing is expected to begin in the NHS this autumn, with hospitals being connected to specialist centres that can interpret the DNA tests given to patients from October.

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