Cancer test reaches 2m a year

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Almost two million women a year in England are now screened for breast cancer, figures show.

Some 1.88 million women aged 45 and over were screened in 2010/11, compared with 1.79 million the year before and 1.3 million in 2000/2001.

The rise is partly due to population increases and the fact women from more age groups are now invited for screening.

Women aged 50 to 70 are routinely invited but this has been extended to those aged 47 to 73 as part of a national roll-out that should be completed after 2016.

The data, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, showed 2.3 million women aged 50 to 70 were invited for screening in 2010/11, compared to 2.2 million in 2009/10.

Some 73.4 per cent took up the invitation, a slight increase on the 73.2 per cent in 2009/10.

Overall, 14,725 cancers from women aged 45 and over were detected through screening, a rate of 7.8 women per every 1,000 screened. This compares to 14,230 cancers detected in the previous year.

Just over 40 per cent (5,945) of cancers detected in 2010/11 were found to be invasive (they had spread into surrounding, healthy tissues) and were less than 15mm across.