Over 125,000 women receive a BreastCheck mammogram

18 February 2013

Free mammograms were provided to 125,329 women aged 50-64 and 832 breast cancers were detected during 2011, BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme today reported in its 2011-2012 programme report, which provides statistics for women invited for screening in 2011. 

BreastCheck invites women aged 50 to 64 years for free breast screening and is part of the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) which is part of the HSE National Cancer Control Programme.

The overall acceptance of invitation to screening was 72.2 per cent, in excess of the programme target of 70 per cent. Of the 125,329 women screened, 5,242 were re-called for assessment. Eight hundred and thirty two women were diagnosed with breast cancer, representing 6.6 cancers per 1,000 women screened.

For 37,429 women it was their first BreastCheck mammogram and 87,900 women had previously had at least one BreastCheck mammogram. This reflects the availability of BreastCheck nationally.

 Brief overview of performance:

  • During 2011, BreastCheck invited 172,076 women for screening.
  • 125,329 women attended their screening appointment.
  • 832 breast cancers were detected.
  • For 37,429 women it was their first BreastCheck mammogram.
  • 87,900 women had previously had at least one BreastCheck mammogram.
  • 74.5 per cent of eligible women invited for screening accepted their invitation, in excess of the programme target of 70%.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Dr Susan O’Reilly, Director of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), said: “We were delighted that during 2011, a challenging year, we screened over 4,500 more women than the previous year and again surpassed our target uptake of 70 per cent.”

 “The programme performed strongly against most commitments in the BreastCheck Women’s Charter during this time of sustained resource shortages, thanks to staff dedication and innovation. While BreastCheck aims to offer a woman her first mammogram within two years of becoming known to the programme and her subsequent mammograms every two years, this does not always happen, however we are pleased that 94 per cent of women were re-invited for their next mammogram within 28 months.

 Majella Byrne, Acting Director of the National Cancer Screening Service said:

“We thank each of the 125,329 women who availed of their free mammogram this year for their participation. When a woman attends one appointment they tend to return for their next round of screening, with over 86 per cent being screened in the subsequent rounds. Uptake remains highest in younger women invited for the first time, but we are concerned with the continued fall in uptake among women invited for the first time in all age groups compared to previous years.”

 In Ireland over 2,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and the cumulative risk increases with age, as is reflected in the government’s reiterated commitment to the age range extension of the BreastCheck programme. Screening aims to detect breast cancer at the earliest stage when treatment is likely to be more successful and less extensive and we would like women to consider this when deciding whether to participate in screening.” concluded Ms Byrne.

Where women were diagnosed with a breast cancer following a BreastCheck mammogram, Dr Ann O’Doherty, Lead Clinical Director, BreastCheck said: “A significant improvement has been made in terms of the percentage of women with cancer offered hospital admission within three weeks of diagnosis, which is just outside of the standard of 90 per cent, a significant improvement on last year and we are grateful for the ongoing collaboration with host hospitals to develop a service response to this issue.”

Since BreastCheck began screening in February 2000 to end 2011, the programme has provided 835,598 mammograms to 371,208 women and detected 5,484 breast cancers.


For further information:

Sheila Caulfield/Aoife O’Sullivan, Communications, National Cancer Screening Service,

Tel: 01-8659300

Note to editors

The BreastCheck Programme Report 2011-2012 provides screening statistics for women who were invited for their mammogram in 2011, in addition to programme developments and updates that occurred during 2012. Also, while the statistics relate to women who were invited for screening in 2011, some women did not attend their screening appointment until early 2012. The statistics follow the screening journey for all women invited in 2011 even if they did not attend their appointment until early 2012.