Women with early stage breast cancer revealed by screening are likely to live as long as someone who has never had the disease, figures show. The NHS Cancer Screening Programme audit confirms detection of the disease in its early stages is vital
Overall, six out of ten women diagnosed after screening and treated had the same survival rates as the general population.
Experts urged women not to miss screening appointments.
The audit results give an overall picture of the success of the strategy of screening and treatment, rather than a guarantee of cure in every case, as the disease will still come back in a small number of women detected early.
In all, 61% of cancers detected following a mammogram are given an "excellent" or "good" prognosis by doctors based on the size of the tumour and how far it has spread.
After treatment, these patients on average are predicted to have the same lifespan as women who have never had cancer.
However, two out of three breast cancers are not detected by screening, and these are not covered by the audit results.
Professor Julietta Patnick, who runs the NHS Breast Screening Programme, said that the extension of the scheme by 2012 to cover more women would increase the number found early. "Huge strides have been made over the past two decades, and more women than ever before are surviving breast cancer, many of whom have benefited from early detection." Mr Martin Lee, the President of the Association of Breast Surgery, who also helped draw up the report, said it was "vital" that women were aware of the survival rates for breast cancers detected early. "I would encourage all women who are invited to be screened to attend," he said.