The NHS Breast Screening Programme began in 1988. It aims to invite all women aged 50 - 70 years for breast screening once every three years. Nationally the programme screens 1.3 million women each year and diagnoses about 10,000 breast cancers annually. The screening programme also offers women over 70 a free breast screen every three years. These women will not be sent an invitation but are encouraged to call the unit to make an appointment that suits them.
The aim of breast screening is to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, often before the woman is aware of any problem. Early detection may mean simpler and more successful treatment. Scientific evidence shows that regular breast screening, between the ages of 50 - 70 years, reduces the death rate from breast cancer. Currently the NHS Breast Screening Programme saves an estimated 1400 lives each year in England.
Breast screening for the Barking, Havering , Redbridge and Brentwood is managed from the Victoria Centre in Romford. There are around 81,000 women currently invited for screening in the area covered. To enable women to be screened closer to home, breast screening is carried out at several sites across the region.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme is subject to monitoring by the Quality Assurance Reference Centre.(QARC) It ensures rigorous quality assurance standards are maintained.