Breast cancer screening may be given to women in 30s to save thousands of lives
Thousands more women could benefit from yearly breast cancer screening, research reveals.
Guidelines currently recommend annual screening for women aged 40-49 in England who are at moderate or high risk of the disease.
But Breast Cancer Now says scans for up to 86,000 more women aged 35-39 with a family history of breast cancer could catch tumours earlier.
A large-scale trial of 3,000 annual mammograms for this group recorded the proportion of tumours detected before they reached 2cm almost doubled from 45% to 80%.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, which funded the study, said: “It could be an enormous breakthrough.”
Study author Prof Gareth Evans, of the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, said: “For women with a family history, removing a non-invasive tumour so early is likely to be a cancer preventive.”
NHS England says an upcoming review by Professor Mike Richards will now consider changes to the screening programme.
In one case, Sarah Perry was told she was not eligible for screening just months before she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33.
As her mum and grandma had developed the disease, she underwent genetic testing.
Sarah, now 37, said: “There are lots of women in the 35-40 age bracket who, if they were offered screening, their cancer would have been detected earlier.”
Sarah had a mastectomy and is in the clear for now.
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