Nearly 1,000 cancers detected by BreastCheck in one year
Head of national screening programme says it is saving lives as 146,000 women screened
There is some concern that the overall rate of eligible women who took up their offer of screening has fallen from 76.5 per cent in 2014 to 74.7 per cent in 2015, despite a high-profile television advertising campaign.
A record 146,000 women attended the HSE national breast cancer screening programme BreastCheck in 2015, new figures show, when nearly 1,000 cancers were detected.
A total of 986 breast cancers were detected, of which 785 were invasive, meaning they were capable of spreading to other parts of the body.
A further 201 women had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early form of breast cancer. Just under seven women in 1,000 who underwent a mammogram were diagnosed with cancer.
BreastCheck head of screening Charles O’Hanlon said the programme was undoubtedly saving lives by detecting breast cancers early and he predicted more lives will be saved as the age limit for screenings is increased from 65 to 69 by 2021.
However, he also said there was some concerns that the overall rate of eligible women who took up their offer of a screening programme had fallen from 76.5 per cent in 2014 to 74.7 per cent in 2015, despite a high-profile television advertising campaign.
As a result, Breastcheck has begun a pilot programme in Limerick targeted at women who do not take up the offer of a mammogram.
“It is something which we are really focused on,” he said. “There is a particular cohort of ladies who have not attended in the past or will not attend.
“Some have worries that it would be sore and others have fears about what would happen if the person found out they had cancer. This is common to all the cancer screening programmes. We are focused on putting people’s minds at ease.”
A total of 198,986 women were eligible for a mammogram of whom 145,822 attended a screening.
BreastCheck’s lead clinical director, Professor Ann O’Doherty said the take up must be over 70 per cent to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer.
“Therefore, it is crucial that we work to maintain the strong uptake rate achieved to date. Almost 90 per cent of women who come for their first BreastCheck mammogram come back again the next time they are invited.”
The service was introduced in 2000 and to date has provided 1.5 million mammograms to more than 500,000 women and detected over 9,800 cancers.
Minister for Health Simon Harris said the results from 2015 showed the screening programme was working and he urged women to continue to avail of the service.