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Interval cancer - a breast cancer diagnosis between screening tests

You can still develop breast cancer between screening tests. This is called interval cancer.

Interval cancers are not common

Interval cancers happen in about 2 in every 1,000 people screened. This is a low rate that compares well internationally. 

Interval cancers are unavoidable. They happen in every screening programme.

Types of interval cancers

There are 3 types of interval cancers.

  1. Cancers that developed between screenings.
  2. Cancers that were found at the last screen but were thought to be normal.
  3. Cancers that were there at the last screen but were missed. These cancers are rare.

If you have any questions about the review process or interval cancers, you can:

Page last reviewed: 3 November 2022
Next review due: 3 November 2025