Offering informed choice about breast screening

J Med Screen. 2014 Dec;21(4):194-200. doi: 10.1177/0969141314555350. Epub 2014 Oct 13.


Over the last few years, there has been growing international concern about the risk of overdiagnosis in breast screening and about how to communicate this to women. There has also been an increasing policy drive to provide people with information to enable them to make an informed choice about screening. In response to this, a novel approach to developing the information about cancer screening has been adopted in England. This approach has integrated the perspectives of people eligible for screening, and experts in public engagement, informed choice, and communicating risk, as well as experts in screening. New information based on this approach has been provided to women invited for breast screening from September 2013. The new information explicitly sets out the choice to be made, and provides much more detail than previous information about overdiagnosis, the balance of benefits and harms, and the scientific uncertainties. The novel approach has also been adopted to develop new information for the bowel and cervical screening programmes in England, and could provide a model for communicating about cancer screening in other countries.

Keywords: Breast neoplasms; Choice behaviour; Consumer involvement; Health information; Mass screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Communication
  • Community Participation*
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom