Over 1.2 million mammograms provided by BreastCheck

Join over 450,000 women who have already taken part in BreastCheck
 

14 April 2015 - Today, BreastCheck reminds all women aged between 50 and 64 to attend their regular mammogram when invited, and make sure that they are on the BreastCheck register on www.breastcheck.ie or at Freephone 1800 45 45 55. Women can also watch a short video about going for a mammogram and find out more about screening and where BreastCheck is screening on the website.

Speaking this afternoon Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said: “I strongly encourage all women to attend their free BreastCheck appointments when invited. The vast majority of screenings are found to be perfectly healthy. Where problems are detected, early treatment greatly increases the likelihood of full recovery. Over 450,000 people have attended regular BreastCheck mammograms since the programme began and over 1.2 million mammograms have been provided. It’s free, it’s fast and it’s the sensible thing to do for you, your family and your community. Under this Government, there has been a major expansion of screening including Bowelscreen, screening for diabetic retinopathy and newborn deafness and cystic fibrosis. The next step is to extend Breastcheck to women up to the age of 69 over the next few years starting in 2015.  Preventing illness and detecting it early makes sense."

Every woman in Ireland aged between 50 and 64, no matter where she lives, can be part of BreastCheck. Minister of State for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch urged women to make the time to attend their Breastcheck appointments: "This could quite literally save your life. I know that the thought of a mammogram can be a cause for worry but the vast majority of women screened are found to be perfectly fine. Investing a little time and effort once every two years to attend is an investment in your health and your future."

As the programme launches a new campaign aimed at encouraging women to attend, Dr Ann O’Doherty Lead Clinical Director of BreastCheck said: “Most women in the age range in Ireland are taking part and we need these women to encourage their friends and family attend their free screening appointments, when they are invited. We’ve seen a drop of six per cent in women attending over the past four years, which is worrying as we need to maintain a minimum of 70% attendance to deliver the most benefit to the women screened.”

Most women aged 50-64 have had at least one free BreastCheck mammogram, and eight out of every ten come for their next mammogram when they get their appointment. However the overall numbers of women taking part in the programme are falling and BreastCheck is concerned women in their early 50s are becoming more likely to not take up their appointment.

The risk of breast cancer increases with age and it is important women aged 50-64 avail of their regular free mammogram every two years so that changes can be identified at an early stage when treatment is easier and there are more treatment options available.

BreastCheck, which began in February 2000 has provided over 1.2 million mammograms to over 450,000 women and detected over 7,400 cancers, In 2012-2013, just 71.4 per cent of all women invited attended their appointment. While just four years ago (in 2008-2009) 77.4 per cent of women went for their mammogram when called.

A BreastCheck appointment only takes 30 minutes. It's quick, it's easy and it's free. Join the many other women participating, and be part of the programme.The vast majority of women screened are found to be perfectly healthy.

BreastCheck encourages all women, regardless of age or participation in screening to remain breast aware at all times and to contact their GP without delay if they have any concerns regarding breast cancer.

Be breast aware

  • No matter what age you are, it is important to always be breast aware.
  • Know what is normal for your body.
  • Know what changes you should look for.

What changes should I look and feel for?

  • Any lumps or unusual thickening in your breast
  • Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin
  • A nipple that appears to be pulled-in or flattened
  • A rash or flaky or crusted skin around the nipple
  • A change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
  • Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit

 

 -Ends-

Further Information: Communications, National Cancer Screening Service. Tel: 01 8659300

 

Background Information:

 

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in Ireland. Over 2,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Ireland each year. If detected early, breast cancer is very treatable.

 

BreastCheck

BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme, contacts women aged 50 to 64 every two years to offer a free mammogram (breast x-ray). Although the mammogram will not pick up all breast cancers, services like BreastCheck have significantly reduced deaths from breast cancer in other countries. Less than one per cent of women screened are diagnosed with cancer. These women are offered the best treatment available with the best possible outcome. The service is Government-funded: www.breastcheck.ie

Note: BreastCheck compiles a register (a list) of all women eligible for screening from details supplied by the Department of Social Protection, General Medical Service (GMS) and Health Insurance providers.

 

Extension of eligible age range

 

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. This year is primarily be a pre-implementation phase with screening of the extended cohort commencing in quarter four. The programme will be extended on an incremental basis and over three screening rounds (to be completed by 2021) and in tandem with the delivery of the existing programme and other population based screening programmes. 

 

The National Screening Service is part of the Health and Wellbeing Division of the Health Service Executive. It encompasses BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme, CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme, BowelScreen – The National Bowel Screening Programme and Diabetic RetinaScreen – The National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme.