Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, a study found.
Those who chose to participate in an organized breast cancer screening program had a 60 percent lower risk of dying from disease within 10 years of diagnosis, a research conducted by Queen Mary University in London revealed.
The study, out of over 50,000 women, also found that 47 percent had a lower risk of dying of breast cancer within 20 years of being diagnosed.
The researchers said this benefit occurs because screening detects tumors at an earlier stage, which means they respond much better to treatment.
The research, published in the peer-reviewed Cancer Society journal of the American Cancer Society, has been described as "innovative" by a leading charity organization.
Women who take part in breast screening have a 60% lower risk of breast cancer death in the first 10 years than in those who are not screened, a study by Queen Mary University in London found
Women in England between the ages of 50 and 70 are currently automatically invited to participate in a breast cancer screening every three years, with the final invitation between the 68th and the 71st birthday.
The screening program is managed by Public Health England and tests are performed by NHS hospitals.
But the number of women who took the call fell to the lowest level in a decade, with participation rates averaging over 70 percent.
The number of participation varies enormously across the country, with lower rates in the poorer areas of the city.
The senior author, Professor Stephen Duffy, of Queen Mary University in London, said: "Recent improvements in treatments have led to reducing breast cancer deaths.
"However, these new findings demonstrate the vital role that screening must play, offering women a much greater benefit from modern treatments.
"We must ensure that participation in the best breast screening programs, especially in economically disadvantaged areas".
The study involved 52,438 women aged 40 to 69 in Dalarna County, Sweden, during 39 years of screening (1977-2015).
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE PROTECTION OF BREAST CANCER AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
What is breast cancer screening?
Screening is a procedure that allows doctors to take breast cancer while it is still in its infancy and therefore easier to treat.
This is an X-ray test, known as mammography, to check for signs of cancer that are too small to see or hear.
The results of the mammogram will be sent to the women and her family doctor within two weeks. About 5% will be recalled for further tests.
Who is eligible?
Any woman who is worried about having breast cancer can see her doctor and be screened.
But recognizing that the risk of breast cancer increases with age, all women aged 50 to 70 who are registered with a family doctor should be automatically invited to undergo screening every three years.
Women are initially invited to participate in screening between the 50th and 53rd birthday, although in some areas they are invited to 47 years as part of a trial.
How are they invited?
The screening process is overseen by Public Health England, which uses an IT system to send out invitations.
All patients received stage-specific treatment according to the latest national guidelines, regardless of the detection mode.
Previous studies have linked screening to a 10-20% lower breast cancer death risk.
The investigators, led by dr. Laszlo Tabar, of Falun Central Hospital in Sweden, used a new method to improve the impact assessment of breast cancer breast cancer screening, calculating the annual incidence of breast cancer that causes death within 10 years and within 20 years of the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Experts agree that regular breast screening is useful for early detection of breast cancer, according to the NHS, and women are less likely to need a mastectomy or chemotherapy.
However, this year it was revealed that 450,000 women were denied life-saving scans and up to 270 died immediately after a "colossal" failure of the NHS in nearly a decade.
The victims between the ages of 68 and 71 were never sent letters that offered them a final routine breast exam due to an IT error that lasted from 2009 until this year.
About 150,000 of these women died and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that between 135 and 270 of them developed breast cancer that shortened their lives.
The women were reassured that they would receive their final invitations by the end of May 2018.
Rachel Rawson, a clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, said: "The shocking failures discovered at the start of this year in inviting invitations should not be allowed to happen again.
"This groundbreaking study strongly emphasizes that being diagnosed with screening means a longer life for many, many women, since treatment is more effective as soon as breast cancer is detected."
The NHS estimates that its screening program will save about a lifetime for every 200 women scanned for breast cancer, adding up to about 1,300 lives saved annually in the UK.
However, screening can be seen as a cause for unnecessary suffering.
Approximately three out of 200 women examined are diagnosed with cancer that would never become life-threatening, equivalent to about 4,000 women each year who were offered unnecessary care.
Rawson said: "It is essential that every eligible woman can count on the opportunity to participate in screening and that over 70s must be informed that they can request mammograms if they wish.
"Offering women the opportunity to make the right health choices for them with clear and balanced information should be a top priority".
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CANCER WITH BREAST?
Approximately 55,200 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year. One in eight women develops the disease during their lifetime.
The disease can cause a series of symptoms, but the first obvious symptom is usually a lump or an area of thickened breast tissue.
Most breast nodules are not cancerous, but it is always best to have them checked by your doctor.
According to NHS Choices you should also see your GP if you notice any of the following:
- A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- Download from one of your nipples, which can be streaked with blood
- A lump or swelling in both armpits
- Darkening on the skin of your breasts
- A rash on or around the nipple
- A change in the appearance of your nipple, like becoming embedded in your breasts
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.