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To date, over 500,000 women have been screened with BreastCheck Shutterstock/Ideya

Over 25,000 women invited for a free breast check this year opted not to go

Free mammograms are offered every two years to all women aged 50-64.

ALTHOUGH OVER 88,000 women between the ages of 50 and 64 were invited for a free BreastCheck screening up to May of this year, over 25,000 of them did not take up the offer.

The figures were provided by Minister for Health Simon Harris in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher.

Last week, BreastCheck’s lead clinical director Professor Ann O’Doherty urged women to “please make time to go your appointment”. She added that it “could save your life”.

Of the 63,480 women screened, an “abnormal mammographic result” was found in 1,630 cases. The statistics showed 93.6% of these women were offered an appointment for an assessment clinic within two weeks of notification of this result.

Harris added: “The proportion of women, to 31 May 2017, who have been invited for screening within 24 months of becoming eligible or since their last screening appointment is 49% (53,145)”.

Figures are also included for women aged 65-69, after the HSE began offering women in that age group free screenings in late 2015. Of the 4,555 women aged 65 invited to May 2017, 3,205 were screened.

The HSE published screening statistics for its national breast screening programme for 2015/16 last week.

Over that period, BreastCheck invited 198,986 women for screening with a total of 145,822 women attending for a mammogram. In that time, 986 cancers were detected.

Uptake, however, at 74.7% was lower than the previous years’ figure of 76.5%.

Professor O’Doherty said: “BreastCheck can only be effective in achieving its goal of reducing the number of mortalities from breast cancer in the population if at least 70% of eligible women attend their screenings.

Therefore, it is crucial that we work to maintain the strong uptake rate achieved to date. Almost 90% of women who come for their first BreastCheck mammogram come back again the next time they are invited.

To date, the BreastCheck programme has provided more than 1.5 million mammograms to over 500,000 women, and detected 9,800 cancers, the HSE said in a statement.

Read: 143 women in Donegal are waiting over a year for a breast clinic appointment

Read: It’s going to take six years to extend the breast cancer screening programme

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