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Observational study of Age, test THreshold and frequency on English NAtional Mammography screening outcomes (ATHENA-M)

Woman having a mammogram

ATHENA-M is a study into the records for all women offered breast screening in England between 1990 and 2018. We will include information from the breast screening programme about what type of screening women had and when. We will add information about whether they got cancer and whether they died from the English Cancer Registry and Mortality and Births Information System.

The benefits we will measure will include lives saved. The harms we measure will include numbers of false positive recalls, and overdiagnosed cases. We will also investigate how changes to number and type (grade, stage and size) of cancers detected at screening affect benefits and harms. We will explore how more or less detection of cell changes which look similar to cancer called Ductal Carcinoma in situ affect benefits and harms of screening.

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Why is this study so important?

We will use the findings to advise the UK National Screening Committee and suggest how to change the English quality assurance guidelines for breast cancer screening.

‘We have nearly 30 years of data about outcomes from the English national breast screening programme. This potentially contains the answers to some of the thorny and important questions about how best to organise screening; such as how often should women be screened, at what age and how many should be recalled for further tests. This could tell us how best to maximise benefits for women and minimise the harms of screening. This study will unlock that information and feed into improving breast screening design for the future.’ - Rosalind Given-Wilson, Consultant Radiologist

Find out more.

This research is in collaboration with the Universities of Bristol and Birmingham and has been assisted by the Independent Cancer Voices charity.