HC Deb 03 December 1997 vol 302 cc259-60W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to provide national guidelines on the introduction of two-view screening for each round of breast screening; [18506]

(2) what plans the Government have to improve the United Kingdom's detection ratio for those rounds of breast screening following the first screening; [18508]

(3) what assessment he has made of the advantages of two-view mammography for detecting small cancers. [18510]

Mr. Boateng

The Cancer Screening Evaluation Unit, which is funded by the Department of Health, is reviewing the advantages of two-view mammography. Recently published data suggest that for a woman's first screen, the use of two-view mammography increases by 45 per cent. the detection of invasive cancers of less than 15 millimetres, and for subsequent screens it increases the detection rate by 25 per cent.

All breast screening units currently take a second mammographic view of the breast at a woman's first visit to the screening programme. Breast screening units have discretion over the use of two view mammography at subsequent screening rounds. The case for requiring all units to take two views at every screening round will have to be assessed along with the outcome of research currently being carried out into other changes that might be made to improve the quality of the service offered to women, for example extending the screening programme to older women, and reducing the screening interval.

Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on extending the upper age limit of those automatically invited to breast screening; [18507]

(2) if he will assess the advantages of extending the upper age limit of those automatically invited to breast screening to 69 years of age. [18526]

Mr. Boateng

The Government are funding a pilot schemes in Northern and Yorkshire, Trent and South Thames regions to evaluate the effectiveness of extending the screening programme to include women aged 65–69. These pilots will run for three years to 1999–2000 to give a clear picture of likely uptake among older women, and effectiveness in terms of the number of cancers detected. We will base any changes to policy on the evidence emerging from these.

Screening every three years is currently available to older women on request. This is well publicised in a number of ways. Women who have already been screened through the programme are informed of their right to request screening after the age of 65. The booklet "Your Health: A Guide to Services for Women", which is widely available through general practitioner's surgeries, clinics, post offices and some shops, makes clear that women aged 65 and over will be screened free of charge three yearly if they request it.