Coverage in the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme, 1996–2005: correcting for the first invitation of women between 50 and 52 years

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Coverage measures the ability of the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) to reach the eligible population and has a target of 70%.


To estimate coverage accurately for women aged 50–64.


Routine data from the KC63 return were used to calculate coverage for women aged 50–64 using an adjusted method that allows for the fact that women receive a first invitation to screening between 50 and 52.9 years.


The adjusted average coverage between 1996 and 2005, for women aged 50–64 was 74.3% and the standard unadjusted average measure for the same period was 68.3%. Therefore, previous measures of coverage for this age group have underestimated coverage by ∼9% and the adjusted figure is actually well above the target.


In terms of coverage the programme has been performing better than previously reported. It is important to monitor the effect of an increasing workload on the programmes ability to re-invite women within three years of their last screen as maintaining coverage is an important factor in ensuring that the NHSBSP is effective in reducing mortality from breast cancer.

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