The NHS breast screening programme (NHSBSP) currently invites women aged 50-70 years for screening by mammography; the age range is being extended to 47-73 years. The original decision to offer screening from age 50 was based on evidence then available from randomised trials which did not show clear evidence of a benefit of screening at younger ages. The AGE trial was uniquely designed to determine the additional benefit of annual mammographic screening from age 40 in reducing deaths from breast cancer.
The trial was conducted in 23 screening units in the UK, and fieldwork was completed in 2005. The first mortality results from the trial did not show a significant reduction in breast cancer deaths in women offered screening. However long term follow up is continuing in order to determine the full effect of this screening on future breast cancer incidence and mortality. This will allow the effect of screening in the trial on breast cancer deaths up to age 60 to be determined, the cost-effectiveness to be compared with that of screening at older ages, and the extent of any over-diagnosis of breast cancer to be estimated.
Professor Sue Moss
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7882 5841