Fall in screening figures revealed
There has been a drop in the percentage of women being screened for breast cancer, NHS figures show.
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) for England reveals 76.4% of women aged 53 to 70 (about 4.25 million) had been screened within the previous three years.
The figure was calculated as of March 31, 2013, and is down on the 77% who had been screened at the same point in 2012 and the 77.2% in 2011.
The NHS Cancer Screening Programme says 70% of women should be screened as a minimum. In London, coverage was 68.7%.
Today's report also showed a fall for the second year running in annual uptake - the proportion of women invited for screening who are screened adequately within six months.
In 2012/13, 72.2% of women aged 50 to 70 (about 1.68 million women) took up their invitation compared to 73.1% in 2011/12 and 73.4% in 2010/11.
Professor Julietta Patnick, director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, said: "We are disappointed to see that the latest figures for 2012/13 show a slight fall in the number of eligible women, aged 53 to 70, taking up their breast screening appointments.
"Early detection and regular screening saves lives and we encourage women to attend their appointment. Women are routinely screened in England between the ages of 50 to 70.
"Women aged 71 to 74 are not routinely invited for screening, and those aged 71 to 73 are being invited as part of a research trial currently being carried out by Public Health England.
"This trial is looking at the benefits and harms of screening women aged 71 to 73, and also of screening women aged 47 to 49."
HSCIC chief executive, Alan Perkins, said: "It goes without saying that the impact of breast cancer on people and their families can be severe and life-changing - this is why data included in today's report is so enormously important in trying to monitor, evaluate and understand the use and outcomes of the NHS Breast Screening programme in England."