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5th April 2019 | Health

National breast cancer screening programme should be widened: Greens

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With almost 3,000 breast cancer cases diagnosed annually here in Ireland, it’s time for the BreastCheck programme to be extended, says Green Party MEP candidate, Senator Grace O’Sullivan.

“At the moment the service is restricted to women in the 50-69 age bracket. I fit into that category and find the set up and system fantastic. The difficulty is, while breast cancer doesn’t discriminate on age grounds, this service does.”

The BreastCheck website refers to the age-limited screening stating: ‘we appreciate that there will be women aged over 67 who will be disappointed not to be re-called for a mammogram. However, following an extensive review, the model chosen…is agreed to be the safest and most effective.’

Senator O’Sullivan is questioning the logic of this statement.

“Breast Cancer Ireland confirm that while 34% of breast cancer diagnoses are in the 50-65 age bracket, the figure for diagnosis in the 65 + age group is 36%.

“There is also an argument for including younger women. 30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer fall into the 20-50 year age group. This is a time in their lives when women are at their prime, when many are raising families. Surely this age group, in particular, should be prioritised with cancer screening that may need to include other forms of screening where mammograms are not suited, as I understand mammogram might not be the best tool in the treatment of younger women.”