British health authorities are worried over the continuing decline in the number of women for breast screening. This could mean increased incidence of cancer, they warn.
In the past 20 years, since it was established, the NHS Breast Screening programme is believed to have detected more than 100,000 cancers.
But now it is feared that the ''inconvenience'' of screening is preventing women from keeping their appointments.
A spokeswoman for the NHS Cancer Screening Service said: ''Busy women put off going because the clinic is difficult to get to or the timing of appointments does not fit their lives. They don't have time,'' she said.
Embarrassment, discomfort and fears that the procedure may be painful were also deterrents, she said.
Women are invited for breast screening every three years between the ages of 50 and 70.
However, in the past year there has been a fall in attendance of 1.1 per cent across all the target age groups, from 71 to 69.5 per cent.
Professor Julietta Patnick, director of NHS Cancer Screening Programmes said: ''The drop in acceptance of the first invitation is particularly worrying as women who accept the first invitation are most likely to be regular attenders.''
Cancers detected at screening are smaller and easier to treat, with improved survival, than those which only become apparent when symptoms develop. The programme is estimated to save 1,400 lives a year, BBC reports.