In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month which took place in October, BreastCheck (the National Breast Screening Programme) reminded all eligible women to join the many other women participating and be part of the programme.
Since it began in February 2000, BreastCheck has provided over 1.4 million mammograms to almost 500,000 women and has detected over 9,300 cancers.
A BreastCheck appointment only takes 30 minutes. It's quick, it's easy and it's free. The vast majority of women screened are found to be perfectly healthy.
The risk of breast cancer increases with age and it is important that all eligible women avail of their regular free mammogram every two years, so that changes can be identified at an early stage. If a breast cancer is found early, it is generally easier to treat and there are more treatment options available.
Professor Ann O’Doherty, Lead Clinical Director for BreastCheck says: “Breast screening allows earlier detection of breast cancer, detection of tumours when smaller and at an earlier stage affords a better prognosis. Smaller tumours can be treated with more conserving surgery and usually less requirement for chemotherapy”.
The programme encourages eligible women to make sure they are on the BreastCheck register by checking online at www.breastcheck.ie or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55. For those women who have never been part of BreastCheck, there is a short video about having a mammogram on the website, showing exactly what happens at the appointment.
Until recently, the eligible age range for screening was 50 to 64. This age range is currently being extended on a phased basis to the age of 69. By the end of 2021, all women aged 50 to 69 will be invited for routine screening. This will be achieved by continuing to invite those women who were between the ages of 50 and 64 on January 1st 2016, until they reach the age of 69.
Most eligible women have had at least one free BreastCheck mammogram. Once they have had a first mammogram, eight out of every ten women come for their next mammogram, when they receive their appointment. However, the participation rate of younger women is lower than older women.
BreastCheck would like to see an increase in the number of all women attending their screening appointment when invited, particularly these younger women. The programme is also asking women who have already participated in BreastCheck to encourage other women of similar ages to attend for screening when they are invited.
BreastCheck encourages all women, regardless of age or participation in screening, to remain breast aware at all times and to contact their GP without delay, if they have any concerns regarding breast cancer.
How to be breast aware
- No matter what age you are, it is important to always be breast aware.
- Know what is normal for your body.
- Know what changes you should look for.
What changes should I look and feel for?
- Any lumps or unusual thickening in your breast
- Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin
- A nipple that appears to be pulled-in or flattened
- A rash or flaky or crusted skin around the nipple
- A change in the size or shape of your breast
- Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
- Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit