A £15M upgrade of equipment to screen women for breast cancer has been approved by health minister Edwina Hart.

More than 100,000 women are screened for breast cancer every year in Wales.

The majority of tests are delivered through 10 mobile screening units and four breast assessment centres in Wrexham, Llandudno, Swansea and Cardiff.

If signs of an abnormality are found, women are then referred to the centres for further assessment.

Velindre NHS Trust, the specialist cancer trust in Wales, aims to replace analogue machines and associate equipment with the latest digital screening, imaging and storage technology.

It will enable faster and better analysis and easier comparison with previous tests.

It is expected that the new equipment will be phased in over three years, starting in 2010.

Mrs Hart said: “Investment in prevention and early detection is crucial to improving the outcome for patients. The Breast Test Wales screening programme is achieving a 25-38% reduction in breast cancer mortality in women who attend for screening.

“Swift diagnosis and treatment reduces the anxiety experienced by patients and their carers.”