An NHS programme which screens women for signs of breast cancer saves more than 1,000 lives in England each year, a new report has revealed.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme, which began in 1988, saves the lives of 1,400 women every 12 months and lessens the chance of patients having to be treated with a mastectomy, the study said.
The aim of the report, entitled Screening for Breast Cancer in England: Past and Future, was to review the benefits and risks associated with the screening programme and debate its effectiveness.
The researchers found that for every 14,000 women, aged between 50 and 60, who are screened three times in a ten-year period, the exposure to radiation will cause one death from breast cancer.
But they concluded that the benefits of the NHS programme outweighed any risks.
The report was produced by the Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer Screening - an independent group set up in 1986 to monitor the screening programme and update the Government development.
The researchers found that the programme saves 1,400 lives in England each year and, for those screened regularly, reduces breast cancer deaths by around 35 per cent.
The study revealed that cancers detected in screened women were smaller and less likely to be treated with a mastectomy than if they had been discovered without a screening.
For every 1,000 women aged between 50 and 70 who are screened regularly over a ten-year period, ten of them will have a cancer diagnosed which will require a mastectomy.
But for women who are not screened on a regular basis, 12 of them will need a mastectomy in the same time period.
The report also showed that for every 400 women screened regularly by the NHS over ten years, one in eight would not have had their breast cancer diagnosed if they had not gone for the test.
Professor Valerie Beral, the Advisory Committee's chairwoman, said the benefits of the screening programme "undoubtedly" outweighed the risks of radiation exposure and anxiety.