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Annual breast cancer checks could save 1,000 lives a year, says women’s health tsar

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

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

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

Dame Lesley, who is also a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, claimed that the decision to give women mammograms once every three years had been based on the budgets available in the Eighties, when checks were introduced. 

However, she said that more recent studies showed annual mammograms could save significant numbers of lives. 

On Tuesday, she told the launch of the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index in London: “If [someone] has a mammogram which is reported as normal today and she developed, for example, a precancerous lesion next month, she will then be waiting [until her next check], when it may well have become invasive, in the belief that she’s fine.

“If you have yearly mammography – and I appreciate that’s an expensive resource – there are very good studies demonstrating how many lives you save.”

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Source: The Telegraph, 25 January 2023

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