Why we are still campaigning to extend BreastCheck
After years of campaigning, we were delighted last October on Budget day, when the Government finally announced the extension of the BreastCheck screening programme to women aged 65—69.
However, since the Budget announcement, we were very disappointed to learn that the full roll-out of the extension will in fact take until 2021.
It will mean that only a small cohort of women, perhaps at little as a 1,000, will be screened towards the end of 2015.
The Government promised this extension would happen during their term in Government in their 2011 ‘Programme for Government’, and this term runs out in 2016.
Why women aged 65-69 need BreastCheck
Women who are 60-69 years old have the second highest incidence of breast cancer and the second highest risk of dying from it. 1 in 10 incidences of breast cancer occur in women aged 65-69 years old. So that is why it is important that the women in the 65-69 age bracket are all screened as soon as possible.
There are legitimate reasons why the roll-out is so slow – screening this age group is a 41 % increase on current numbers. In order to cater for this more radiologists are needed and the screening service has to expand their capacity.
However, this is a promise of Government. We will be campaigning during 2015 for the extension to be implemented faster.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says that quality screening mammography carried out every two years in women who are 50-69 years of age should reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by about 35%. This means that one life will be saved for every 500 women screened.
On Budget Day 2014, October 14th, Minister Varadkar announced that he was providing the funds necessary to complete the screening programme and widen the age bracket.
The Irish Cancer Society considered this to be a priority issue for Government as it had been deferred in the previous year’s Budget. The Society is working towards a future without cancer and screening an additional 43,000 women for breast cancer every year will bring that future closer. The earlier cancer is detected, the more likely that the patient will go on to live a healthy and normal life.
How you can take action
If you would like to support this campaign please sign up to the Advocacy Action Network – our grassroots movement of people taking action on cancer.
Join the Network today and take action to save lives.