Breast cancer screening in the UK: an administrative failure

16 May 2018 (Last Updated May 16th, 2018 16:26)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the most common cancer in women worldwide, accounting for 16% of all female cancers.

Breast cancer screening in the UK: an administrative failure
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the most common cancer in women worldwide. U.S. Navy photo by Tim Jensen

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the most common cancer in women worldwide, accounting for 16% of all female cancers. In the UK, approximately 56,000 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in 2018. Like other public and private healthcare systems in developed countries globally, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) offers breast cancer screening to certain populations. In this country, women who are ages 50–70 years and registered with an NHS general practitioner (GP) are automatically invited for breast cancer screening every three years. The final screening for women is performed from ages 68–71 years. According to a statement by the UK health secretary in May 2018, the final screening invitation has not been sent to 50,000 women ages 68–71 since 2009 due to an administrative error, leading to the deaths of an estimated 270 women from breast cancer.

According to the NHS, approximately one in eight women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. GlobalData epidemiologists forecast an increase in diagnosed incident cases of invasive breast cancer in the UK, from more than 53,000 cases in 2015 to nearly 58,000 cases in 2025 at an Annual Growth Rate (AGR) of 0.91%, as shown in Figure 1 below. Cases of breast cancer have increased in recent years due to rising awareness in the population and the use of screening to detect early signs of cancer.

There is a large amount of evidence showing that breast cancer mammographic screening is effective in reducing disease mortality by at least 20% in women ages 50 years and older. The organization of nationwide mammography screenings has improved survival, as breast cancer is detected at an earlier stage. In the UK, robust measures should be put in place to ensure both that this sort of administrative failure does not reoccur and that every woman has an opportunity for breast cancer screening to detect the disease in the earlier stages.

Related Reports

GlobalData (2017). HER2-Positive Breast Cancer: Global Drug Forecast and Market Analysis to 2025, June 2017, GDHC151PIDR.

GlobalData (2016). Breast Cancer (HER2+, HER2-):  Epidemiology Forecast to 2025, December 2016, GDHCER133-16.

For more insight and data, visit the GlobalData Report Store – Hospital Management is part of GlobalData Plc.