Patient data is being used to identify women at increased risk of breast cancer in later years

What happened?

Patient data is used to identify women at risk of developing breast cancer and make sure they are offered extra breast cancer screening. Women younger than 36 who have had radiotherapy on breast tissue to treat lymphoma are at higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future. These women benefit from starting breast screening at an earlier age to help detect potential breast cancer. But research found that not many of these women were not being screened for a variety of reasons. NCRAS data is now used to identify these at-risk women in England and place them in a list called the Breast screening After Radiotherapy Dataset (BARD). The BARD data is then used to make breast cancer screening appointments for these women when needed. These women are sent invites and extra information about the programme to inform them about the benefits of screening.

Why is this work needed?

This work is needed to help save lives for women at risk of developing breast cancer. By inviting these women to attend NHS breast screening appointments, cancer can be found at an early stage. Without patient data, we would not know which individuals are at greater risk of developing breast cancer and be able to focus our work to support these individuals.

What are the benefits?

The BARD dataset helps women at risk of breast cancer to start breast screening early. The sooner cancer is detected, the more treatment options are available to patients and the higher the chances of recovery. This is an important example of how patient data helps healthcare services make improvements to save lives.   

What type of data was involved?

This work uses data collected as part of cancer registration and held securely by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS).

What was the legal basis for accessing this data?

NCRAS has legal permission to collect patient-level data and use it for research to protect the health of the population. This permission is granted under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006.

Who funded and collaborated on this work?

This work was carried out by the BARD team in NCRAS in collaboration with clinicians, patients and radiotherapy centres across England. The project was partly funded by The Christie Charity and Teenage Cancer Trust.

Where can I go for more information?

Breast screening after Radiotherapy (BARD) – Blog

Overview of BARD – The Christie NHS

Blog – Patient data is helping to improve care for breast cancer patients

Or, for more information, you can email the BARD programme on

This work uses data that has been provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support. The data are collated, maintained and quality assured by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, which is part of Public Health England (PHE).