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Women who live in poor areas are less likely to have their breasts screened for signs of cancer, health officials have warned.
Public Health England (PHE) said that there is a lower uptake of breast screening in more deprived regions of the country.
Researchers found that only 59% of women who live in deprived neighbourhoods attended their first screening appointment, compared to 73% of those living in more affluent areas.
"It's worrying that breast cancer screening uptake is different depending on the deprivation of the area women live in," said lead author Ruth Jack, an epidemiologist at PHE London.
In response to the controversy surrounding breast screening, the Department of Health commissioned an review into the risks and benefits in 2011:
Evidence suggested it offers a 20% relative risk reduction in mortality to women who were invited to participate in a 20-year screening programme. This equates to the prevention of around 1,300 deaths from the disease every year in the UK.
But research, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, contests the findings:
Clinical trials have indicated that several years have to elapse between the start of screening and the emergence of a reduction in mortality. Yet our data shows that there is no evidence of an effect of mammographic screening on breast cancer mortality at the population level over an observation period of almost 40 years.
While research into breast screening is welcomed, conflicting findings from different studies can be confusing for women.
The most in-depth study of breast screening to date remains the recent independent breast screening review, which comprehensively looked at all available evidence. It concluded that screening does save lives by helping to detect breast cancers earlier.
The quicker women are diagnosed the better their treatment options so we encourage all women to continue to attend screening when invited to do so.
Breast cancer screening programmes have yet to show a reduction in the number of women who die from the disease, a new study has found.
Oxford University’s Department of Public Health studied mortality statistics from the Oxford region before and after the introduction of the NHS Breast Screening Programme in 1988.
They concluded that population-based mortality statistics for England do not show a past benefit of breast cancer screening.
While mortality rates for breast cancer have significantly declined since the 1980s, some critics have said that breast cancer screening programmes do more harm than good.
Hundreds of women have been recalled for further breast cancer screening by a hospital over fears that a junior doctor failed to follow proper procedures.
Around 250 patients who attended a clinic at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital in Dorset between January 2011 and July last year have been asked back to have reassessments.
It comes after consultants raised concerns regarding the doctor, who is no longer working there, and the way in which an initial assessment of some patients may have been carried out.
The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said in a statement that the assessments "potentially did not meet our usual high standards".
“Although we have found no evidence of any harm, the safety of our patients is our number one priority. This is why as a precaution we are making additional contact with some patients and offering a further consultation.
The vast majority of patients who have attended the breast clinic at Bournemouth during this time remain unaffected. We do however realise that for those patients that we do recall this may lead to additional anxiety and we apologise for the distress that this may cause."