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Mammography Screening Services

Volume 828: debated on Tuesday 21 December 1971

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has to extend the mammography screening services available to National Health Service patients.

An expert committee on breast cancer screening is looking into the question, but there is no mammography screening service in this country at present and there are no plans to introduce one.

I am afraid that I regard that answer as very unsatisfactory because there is, in fact, a screening system operating in this country. It is a private service and works very effectively. I know this from personal experience since I have worked in it.

Yes, Mr. Speaker; that is coming up. Is my hon. Friend aware that x-ray screening for cancer breast has proved extremely effective in New York, and that studies made in this country show that carcinoma of the breast can be detected by using x-ray mammography before it can actually be felt? Is he further aware that this service in this country is confined entirely to those who are rich enough to pay, and does he not agree with me that it should be extended to the National Health Service?

I am very glad to have been made aware by a rhetorical question of my hon. Friend's own private service in this matter. We have set up an expert committee to study mammography whose terms of reference include advice on whether we should set up a pilot service.