New screening advice may prevent unnecessary breast surgery

The government is rewriting its guidance on breast screening amid concerns that some women may be undergoing breast surgery unnecessarily.

At present, the leaflets that are sent to women alongside invitations for breast screening focus on the benefits of screening, but do not highlight the associated risks.

The main concern is that women may decide to have breast surgery to remove lesions known as ductal carcinoma in situ - a dormant form of cancer that may never progress and become invasive.

In light of this, the Department of Health has commissioned a new version of the leaflet that will inform women of the risk of unnecessary surgery.

Joan Austoker, author of the NHS leaflets, told the Times: "We want to make sure that all the risks of breast screening are referred to in appropriate detail."

Women between the ages of 50 and 70 are routinely invited for breast screening every three years and the programme is being extended to include 47 to 73-year-olds.

Beyond this age, women are still entitled to request free breast screening, although they will no longer receive routine invitations.

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