Breast cancer screening policy position

Older woman getting a mammogram

International evidence

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has found that quality screening mammography done every two years in women 50-69 years of age should reduce their risk for death from breast cancer by about 35%.

The EU Advisory Committee on Cancer Prevention recommends that asymptomatic women, aged 50-69 years, should be offered mammography examination every two to three years. Twelve Member States have adopted the target age range specified (50-69 years).

Breast cancer in Ireland

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women in Ireland and every year over 3,100 women are diagnosed with the disease. The vast majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are aged between 50-64 (41%), but younger women are also affected, with 23% of diagnosis occurring in women under 50.

The number of breast cancer survivors are increasing, with 83% of those with a breast cancer diagnosis now living 5 years and beyond.

Irish Cancer Society position on breast cancer screening

BreastCheck currently invites women aged 50-67 years for free screening every two years.

A January 2010 report on breast screening by HIQA recommended extension of this age range to include women aged 65-69 years.

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to extend BreastCheck to women aged 68-69 years. The Irish Cancer Society continues to call on Government to deliver this as a priority.


Breast screening helps find cancer at an early stage. Breast screening involves having a mammogram of your breasts at a BreastCheck clinic or mobile screening unit. You become eligible for breast screening once you reach the age of 50.

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