About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an update of breast screening statistics to 31 March 2023. 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 2020/23:

  • 711,189 women aged 50-70 were invited, and 539,575 attended, a routine breast screening appointment. This equates to more than three in four women (75.9%) taking up their screening invitations. This is an increase on the previous three-year period (2019/22), when uptake was 74.5%, and pre-pandemic (2017/20), when uptake was 72.2%.
  • Women from more deprived areas were less likely to attend breast screening: 64.2% from the most deprived areas compared with 82.8% in the least deprived areas, a difference of 18.6 percentage points. This is a slight decrease relative to the previous period (18.8 percentage points).
Image caption Breast screening uptake by deprivation quintile 1,2 for Scotland (2020/23)
  1. Uptake of breast screening by deprivation category is the percentage of people with a screening test result for which a valid postcode is available, out of those invited.
  2. Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), most appropriate version of SIMD2020 applied to data.
  • All NHS boards individually met the acceptable uptake standard of 70% for the three-year period (2020/23): This is the second time this has happened since 2008/11, with the first time being the 2019/2022 period.
  • Invasive cancer detection rates across the three-year period (2020/23) for ages 50-52 (initial screen) remained the same when compared to the previous three-year period at 6.3 per 1,000 women screened. However, for ages 53-70 (previously screened with last screening within five years) invasive cancer detection rates rose from 6.8 for the previous three-year period to 7.3 per 1,000 women screened. This may be a result of the pause to screening, due to the pandemic leading to a backlog of screens.
  • The number of screen-detected breast cancers in women of all ages in 2022/23 was 1,894. This is 64 extra breast cancers than had been detected last year (1,830) and more than 100 extra detected annually for the three years immediately preceding the pandemic (average number: 1,727 across 2017/18, 2018/19, and 2019/20).


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

The reporting period (2020/23) 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. The definitions of the breast screening acceptable and achievable performance measures can be found within Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s breast screening standards.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be April 2025.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact John Quinn at phs.cancerstats@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

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: 15 May 2024
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