adult screening programme
In the UK, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. It usually affects women over 50 years of age and have reached menopause. It is possible for women of any age to be affected by breast cancer. In rare cases, the condition can also affect men.
Read more about breast cancer on the NHS website.
UK NSC screening recommendation
Breast screening started in the UK in 1988, before the UK NSC was formed. The committee has therefore not formally considered the evidence for screening for breast cancer.
In 2012, the government asked Sir Michael Marmot to chair an independent review of the evidence for breast screening. He found that in the UK the screening programme prevents around 1,300 deaths from breast cancer each year. But he also found evidence of overdiagnosis and that for every death prevented by screening, around 3 women will be treated for a cancer which would not have harmed them. Overall, however, the review concluded that breast screening has significant benefit and should continue.
Changes to the breast screening programme
The UK NSC considers changes to screening programmes when there is strong evidence that they could improve outcomes. See our current and past proposals to modify the breast screening programme.
Supporting documents from the 2019 review
UK NSC Evidence Review Additional Breast screening with ultrasound in women with dense breasts Final 27 02 2019
This document provides the evidence on which the current UK NSC recommendation is based.
UK NSC coversheet & consultation responses Breast Ultrasound and Dense (2019)
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.
Screening around the UK
The UK NSC recommends screening for this condition, however this may vary slightly depending on where you are in the UK.
Date previous review completed: 2019
Next review estimated to be completed: 2022 to 2023.
To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.
Organisations interested in Breast Cancer
These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.
List of organisations
- Breast Cancer Care
- Breast Cancer Now
- British Association of Surgical Oncology
- Cancer Research UK
- Faculty of Public Health
- Northern Ireland Cancer Network
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Royal College of Nursing
- Royal College of Pathologists
- Royal College of Physicians
- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
- Royal College of Radiologists
- Royal College of Surgeons
- Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- Society and College of Radiographers
- The British Association for Cancer Research