THOUSANDS of women are forced to wait up to a year for health screening, including tests for cervical and breast cancer. And a researcher says the incidence of cervical cancer could be halved if women were diagnosed earlier. Around 7,000 a year are screened at Kwong Wah Hospital's Well Woman Clinic. But each has to wait between six and 12 months for a first appointment, clinic staff said. Only one other clinic offers women preventive health screening, such as mammograms to identify breast cancer and pap smears which can detect cervical cancer. It is important screening clinics are used to catch cervical cancer early, Hong Kong University community medicine expert Dr Linda Koo Chih-ling said. 'Cervical cancer affects 15 women per 100,000. We could bring it down to eight if it was detected earlier,' she said. Breast cancer is also catching up with lung cancer as the most common form of the disease affecting women in the territory. Just over 1,200 new cases are registered every year. In the early 1980s, new cases of breast cancer totalled just under 800 per year.