BMJ: Cancer screening uptake- only a third of women take up offers

Torjesen, I. | 2019| Cancer screening: only a third of women in England take up all offers | BMJ| 366 | l5588 | doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l5588

A new study published in the BMJ indicates that of the screening services offered to women in their 60s, which include cervical, breast and bowel screening only a third attend these screening sessions.  

The study included over 3000 women aged between 60-65 who had responded to their last invitations from each of these three screening programmes.

Results showed that:

  • 35% took part in all three screening programmes;
  • 37% participated in two programmes;
  • 17% accessed one type of screening; and
  • 10% were not screened at all.

They found that in the last screening round, 2525 (83%) had taken up mammography, 1908 (62%) cervical screening, and 1635 (53%) bowel cancer screening, which is consistent with the proportions reported in the official statistics for England (78%, 58-59%, and 57-59%, respectively).

The researchers also explored area level correlations between participation in the three screening programmes and various population characteristics for all English general practices with complete data in the Fingertips database curated by Public Health England. This database reports health related data for England aggregated by administrative area.

General practices with higher proportions of unemployed patients and smokers had a lower rate of take-up of all three screening programmes. Conversely, general practices from areas with less deprivation, with more patients who are carers or have chronic illnesses themselves, and with more patients satisfied with the provided service were significantly more likely to attain high coverage rates in all programmes (Source:  Torjesen, 2019).

To determine how many women participate in all three recommended cancer screening programmes (breast, cervical, and bowel). During their early 60s, English women receive an invitation from all the three programmes.

For 3060 women aged 60–65 included in an England-wide breast screening case–control study, we investigated the number of screening programmes they participated in during the last invitation round. Additionally, using the Fingertips database curated by Public Health England, we explored area-level correlations between participation in the three cancer screening programmes and various population characteristics for all 7014 English general practices with complete data.
Results

Of the 3060 women, 1086 (35%) participated in all three programmes, 1142 (37%) in two, 526 (17%) in one, and 306 (10%) in none. Participation in all three did not appear to be a random event (p  less than 0.001). General practices from areas with less deprivation, with more patients who are carers or have chronic illnesses themselves, and with more patients satisfied with the provided service were significantly more likely to attain high coverage rates in all programmes.

Only a minority of English women is concurrently protected through all recommended cancer screening programmes. Future studies should consider why most women participate in some but not all recommended screening.

 

See also: King’s College London Only a third of women take up all offered cancer screenings, new research finds

BMJ Cancer screening: only a third of women in England take up all offers

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