Extension of BreastCheck screening

It has long been the intention of the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) to extend the upper screening age of BreastCheck from 65 to 69. There is clear evidence to support the extension of the screening age. The NCSS has submitted a business plan to the Department of Health, outlining the additional funding and staffing levels required to safely and effectively extend the programme.

The HSE estimates process for 2015 is currently underway and the extension of the BreastCheck age range is included. The NCSS awaits approval and funding from the Government to progress the necessary planning and recruitment required to support extended screening. Once the age range is increased to offer screening to women aged from 50 to 69, the total eligible population for BreastCheck will be over 544,000 women. This represents a 41 per cent increase in the number of women currently eligible.

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 we have provided over 1.2 million mammograms to over 450,500 women and detected over 7,400 cancers.

Worryingly, the number of women aged 50-64 currently attending for their mammogram is consistently falling. BreastCheck encourages all women who are currently eligible to please attend their mammogram appointment when invited. An appointment only takes half an hour. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s free.