128,002 women receive a BreastCheck mammogram Some younger women not taking up screening appointments

BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme screened 128,002 women for breast cancer between 2012 and 2013, with 858 cancers detected, according to its programme report published today.

Over 71 per cent of eligible women attended screening appointments which is in line with the programme target of 70 per cent but this represents a fall off of approximately three per cent from the 2011 to 2012 figures.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Majella Byrne, Head of Screening Service said; “it is through a regular mammogram every two years that BreastCheck will deliver the most benefit to the population screened and I encourage eligible women to attend each time they are invited.”

Dr Ann O’Doherty, Lead Clinical Director, BreastCheck said: “BreastCheck began screening in February 2000 and most recent figures show we have provided over one million mammograms to over 440,000 women, detecting over 7,100 breast cancers. However we are concerned that we are starting to see that attendance is falling among women new to the programme, in particular 50 to 54 year olds.

“We know that many of these women are incredibly busy with many working outside of the home as well as caring for their own families. We would urge every woman to put her own health first and to avail of a free mammogram, when invited, as it could save her life,” she added.

In 2012, the number of women invited for the first time fell and the number of women invited and screened for the second and subsequent time continued to rise. This reflects the progression to a mature screening service following the completion of the first round of the national expansion of BreastCheck in 2010. This also reflects smaller numbers of younger women (50 to 51) entering the programme. For those invited for the first time acceptance rates have fallen to 66.4 per cent and remain outside the target acceptance rate of 70 per cent.

Overview of programme:

  • During 2012 BreastCheck invited 183,632 women for screening
  • 128,002 women attended for screening
  • 858 breast cancers were detected
  • 6.7 cancers detected per 1,000 women screened
  • 71.4% of eligible women invited for screening accepted their invitation, in excess of the programme target of 70%

BreastCheck continues to strive to achieve all standards outlined in the BreastCheck Women’s Charter. Most (98 per cent) women receive seven days’ notice of an appointment and receive their mammogram results within three weeks (99 per cent). Over 92 per cent of women who were recalled for an assessment appointment after an abnormal mammogram receive this appointment within two weeks.

Commenting Dr. Ann O’Doherty said: “We continue to strive to meet the targets we have set out in the Women’s Charter but some areas, such as hospital admissions, remain outside of our control. We are confident with the early detection rates among women who participate in BreastCheck, but we need women in Ireland to play their part also, by attending at free screening appointments, when they are invited.”



Further Information:

Aoife O’Sullivan, 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.


BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme, contacts women aged 50 to 64 every two years to offer a free mammogram (breast x-ray). 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.