Life

Only one third of women in their 60s undergo full NHS cancer screening

Researchers said some women are put off by the types of test available for certain cancers
Jane Kirby (PA)

ONLY a third of women in their 60s say yes to all the NHS cancer screening programmes, according to new research.

While women may take up one or two offers of screening for breast, cervical or bowel cancer, just 35 per cent say yes to all three.

Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 across the UK, with a trial in England currently extending screening to those aged 47 to 73.

For cervical screening, women aged 25 to 64 are invited for a test, while bowel screening is offered to men and women aged 60 to 74.

In England, another type of bowel screening called bowel scope is also starting to be offered to people at age 55.

For the latest research, experts looked at data for 3,060 women in England aged 60 to 65.

Of the group, 1,086 (35 per cent) had participated in all three programmes in the latest screening round, while 1,142 (37 per cent) took up two, 526 (17 per cent) one, and 306 (10 per cent) none.

Overall, 21 per cent attended breast and cervical screening but refused a bowel cancer tests, while 15 per cent said yes to bowel and breast but not cervical.

The researchers said some women are put off by the types of test available, while GP surgeries with a higher proportion of unemployed patients and smokers had a lower rate of take-up of all three screening programmes.

The team, from King's College London and Queen Mary University of London, writing in the Journal of Medical Screening, said the situation was "disconcerting".

Lead author, Dr Matejka Rebolj, from King's College London, added: "To lower the chances of dying from certain cancers, it is important for the population to attend all offered screening programmes.

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