Disability and participation in breast and bowel cancer screening in England: a large prospective study

Br J Cancer. 2017 Nov 21;117(11):1711-1714. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2017.331. Epub 2017 Oct 3.


Background: There is limited information about participation in organised population-wide screening programmes by people with disabilities.

Methods: Data from the National Health Service routine screening programmes in England were linked to information on disability reported by the Million Women Study cohort participants.

Results: Of the 473 185 women offered routine breast or bowel cancer screening, 23% reported some disability. Women with disabilities were less likely than other women to participate in breast cancer screening (RR=0.64, 95% CI: 0.62-0.65) and in bowel cancer screening (RR=0.75, 0.73-0.76). Difficulties with self-care or vision were associated with the greatest reduction in screening participation.

Conclusion: Participation in routine cancer screening programmes in England is reduced in people with disabilities and participation varies by type of disability.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*
  • Prospective Studies