SOME 1.5million women are at increased risk of dying from breast cancer because they are not up to date with screening, damning figures show.
Uptake in England is at a decade low with almost one in three women invited for scans last year failing to attend an appointment.
Charities described the numbers as “extremely worrying” and warned scans are “critical” for early diagnosis, when tumours are easier to treat.
The NHS first invites women for screening between the ages of 50 and 53 and then every three years until their 71st birthday.
Around 6million women in England qualify for a routine check but only 4.5million have been scanned in the past three years.
Numbers are falling
The proportion taking up routine breast screening has fallen from 71.1 per cent in 2016/17 to 70.5 per cent in 2017/18, according to NHS Digital.
Officials issued 2.54million invites last year but only 1.79million women were scanned, meaning 750,000 rejected the offer.
Uptake was above the minimum standard of 70 per cent in all regions except the North West (69.8 per cent) and London (63.3 per cent).
Around 55,122 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, with 11,563 dying from it.
Screening saves lives
The NHS Breast Screening Programme is credited with preventing 1,300 deaths from breast cancer in England each year.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, from charity Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s extremely worrying that uptake of breast screening continues to fall and has reached another decade low.
“We must act now at national and regional levels to reverse this trend.
“If screening uptake was increased to the established ‘achievable’ target of 80 per cent, we could prevent many more deaths from breast cancer.
“With breast cancer incidence continuing to rise, it’s really concerning that over 750,000 women are missing out on the benefits of screening in England.
“Screening is vital in ensuring that breast cancer is detected at earlier, more treatable stages.
“We’d encourage all women to attend their appointments when invited.”