About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an update of breast screening statistics to 31 March 2022. It includes Scottish Breast Screening Programme (SBSP) performance standards, attendance figures, cancer detection rates, biopsy results and screening outcomes.

Main points

For the three-year period 2019/22:

  • 699,869 women were invited, and 521,237 attended, a routine breast screening appointment. This equates to more than seven in ten women (74.5%) taking up their screening invitations. This is an increase on the previous three-year period (2018/21), when uptake was 73.2%, and pre-pandemic (2017/20) when uptake was 72.2%.
  • Women from more deprived areas were less likely to attend breast screening: 62.7% from the most deprived areas compared with 81.5% in the least deprived areas, a difference of 18.8 percentage points. This is a slight decrease relative to the previous period (19.6 percentage points).
Image caption Breast screening uptake by deprivation quintile 1,2 for Scotland (2019/2022)
  1. Deprivation categories are tied to postcodes; individuals without a valid postcode are not included in these figures.
  2. Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2020.
  • All NHS boards individually met the acceptable uptake standard of 70% for the three-year period, the first time this has happened since 2008/11.
  • Invasive cancer detection rates across the three-year period (2019/22) for 50-52-year-olds (initial screen) and 53-70-year-olds (previously screened within five years) have remained relatively stable at 6.3 and 6.8 per 1,000 screened, respectively.
  • The number of screen-detected breast cancers in women of all ages in 2021/22 was 1,830, an increase from the average number detected in the three years immediately preceding the pandemic (1,727 across 2017/18, 2018/19, and 2019/20). This number is also 824 more than the figure from 2020/21, which included the pause due to COVID-19.


For more detailed background on the SBSP, see the Public Health Scotland website.

The reporting period (2019/22) includes the pause to the SBSP due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No individuals were invited to breast screenings during this period, causing a reduction in overall numbers screened. Services have worked hard to recover but have been under additional strain with limited capacity due to infection prevention and control measures including social distancing and staffing pressures.

In 2021 (see previous release), 53% of breast cancers diagnosed in the screening-eligible population were detected via screening. The average over the 10 years immediately preceding the pandemic was 53% therefore this year's figure represents a recovery from the drop to 39% seen in 2020, when screening was paused for several months due to COVID-19.

The definitions of the breast screening acceptable and achievable performance measures can be found within Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s breast screening standards.

More information on the SBSP dataset can be found on our data sources page.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be April 2024.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.cancerstats@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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