Thousands of women are being urged to attend NHS breast screening appointments as new figures today show that, despite a slight increase in uptake in the last year, over a third of women still did not take up the potentially lifesaving offer.

In 2022/23, a total of 1.93-million women aged 50 to 70 attended screening appointments (within six months of invitation) out of the 2.98-million invited to book a check-up – an increase in uptake on 2021/22. 

However 35.4 per cent of women did not attend their appointments following an invitation, increasing to 46.3 per cent of women who were being invited for the first time.

The screening programme led to cancers being detected in 18,942 women across England in 2022/23, which otherwise may not have been diagnosed and treated until a later stage.

NHS England is calling for women to put their health at the top of their to-do list and come forward for breast screening when invited. The call comes following a major £70m Government investment in the Digital Transformation of Screening initiative to modernise screening services over the next three years.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: “It is vital that women come forward for breast screening when invited, as early cancer diagnosis can make all the difference.

“We’re making it as easy as possible to attend appointments and screening rates are rising, but there are still too many women missing out so I urge everyone receiving that text invite or that letter to book a check-up – it could be lifesaving.”

A woman’s risk of getting breast cancer goes up as they get older, with around four out of five breast cancers found in women over 50 years old.

Under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, eligible women will usually receive their first routine invitation for breast cancer screening between the ages of 50 and 53 and will normally be invited every three years until their 71st birthday. 

• More information on NHS breast screening checks is available at