Budget 2015: Extension of BreastCheck screening

14 October 2014 - The National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) welcomes the Government's announcement to extend the upper screening age of BreastCheck from 65  to 69. This is in fulfilment of Programme for Government commitment and is in line with EU guidelines on breast cancer screening. Currently BreastCheck provides screening to women aged 50 to 64. With coverage now extending to include women from 50 to 69, the total eligible population for BreastCheck will be approximately 544,000 women.

BreastCheck will substantially increase its staffing levels to accommodate the additional screening safely and effectively. Staff to be recruited will include qualified radiographers for the four screening units and associated mobile units, in addition to medical consultant staffing.Next year will primarily be a pre-implementation phase with screening of the extended cohort commencing in quarter four 2015.

It will be necessary for BreastCheck to implement extended screening on a phased basis over three screening rounds, each involving a two year period. Capital investment will also be involved.

This work will be carried out by the HSE National Screening Service in tandem with the continued roll-out of the BowelScreen and Diabetic RetinaScreen programmes and management of CervicalCheck. Quality is paramount in the delivery of national population based screening programmes and ensuring quality assured outcomes is a fundamental principle of screening.

The aim of BreastCheck is to detect breast cancers at the earliest possible stage. At this point, a detected cancer is usually easier to treat and there are greater treatment options. BreastCheck began screening in February 2000 and most recent figures show the programme has provided over 1.2 million mammograms to over 450,000 women and detected over 7,400 cancers.

Not all women aged 50 to 64 currently take up their screening invitation. BreastCheck strongly encourages all women to attend when invited. An appointment only takes half an hour. It's quick, it's easy, it's free and it might save your life.

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