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The National Health Service Breast Screening Programme and British Association of Surgical Oncology audit of quality assurance in breast screening 1996–2001. BJS 2003; 90: 82-87.

Published: 8th January 2003

Authors: P. Sauven, H. Bishop, J. Patnick, J. Walton, E. Wheeler, G. Lawrence et al.


The National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) is an example of a nationally coordinated quality assurance programme in which all the professional groups involved participate.


Surgeons, radiologists and pathologists defined the clinical outcome measures against which they would subsequently be audited. The NHSBSP and the Association of Breast Surgery at BASO are jointly responsible for coordinating an annual audit of all surgical activities undertaken within the NHSBSP.


The trends for key outcome measures between 1996 and 2001 are provided. The preoperative diagnosis rate (minimum standard 70 per cent or more) improved from 63 to 87 per cent. This rise was mirrored by an increase in the use of core biopsy in preference to fine‐needle cytology. The proportion of patients in whom lymph node status was recorded improved from 81 to 93 per cent. There was no significant change in the number of women treated by low case‐load surgeons and waiting times for surgery increased through the study interval.


The BASO–NHSBSP Breast Audit has recorded major changes in clinical practice over 5 years. A key feature has been the dissemination of good practice through feedback of the results at local and national level. Copyright © 2003 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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