NEW state-of-the-art digital equipment will be used to screen women in Wales for breast cancer, through a £10 million investment programme.

Within a couple of years, more than 100,000 women a year in Wales - including many thousands in Gwent - will be screened for breast abnormalities on digital instead of the current analogue equipment.

The new screening equipment will be available on new Breast Test Wales mobile screening units, being provided as part of an earlier £1m investment, and at breast assessment centres.

The mobile units are a common sight at locations across Gwent, enabling screening-eligible women easy access to testing as part of a Wales-wide programme.

The Assembly-backed programme is a response to rising demand for breast screening.

”Early detection and diagnosis ensure better outcomes for patients and therefore it is essential that all women attend their screening when invited,” said health minister Edwina Hart.

Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB, chairman of Public Health Wales said he is delighted at the investment.

"This puts the Breast Test Wales in an excellent position to continue to deliver an efficient and modern screening programme, maximising benefits from new technological developments,” he said.

The new equipment will enable faster and better processing and analysis of images and easier comparison with previous tests.

It will also reduce the need of women to be recalled for tests, as radiographers will be able to see if the scans are of the necessary quality to enable clinical determination.

Breast Test Wales offers breast screening to all women in Wales aged 50-70 every three years, and has the highest cancer detection rate in the UK.

According to the latest figures, for every 1,000 women screened, 6.7 cancers were detected in the first round, rising to 7.2 in later tests.

Breast Test Wales invites more than 140,000 women for screening every year, with over 105,000 attending.

Where signs of an abnormality are found, women are referred to breast assessment centres for further investigation.