Thousands of women ignore breast cancer check
Tens of thousands of women are ignoring invitations for free breast screening which could save their lives, it has emerged.
BreastCheck, the State programme offering mammograms to women aged 50-64, has found the take-up falling from nearly 80pc to around 70pc in recent years.
The drop has led to serious concern that women may be missing out on early cancer detection.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Social Care Minister Kathleen Lynch launched a new publicity campaign for BreastCheck yesterday in a bid to encourage more women to accept an invitation for the simple check.
Mr Varadkar said it was not fully clear why there had been a fall-off but it was most marked in women in their early fifties.
He said these women can often be more focused on "other people's wellbeing".
But it was "just as important for themselves and their loved ones they take time out for breast screening," he added.
He also pointed to the improvement in hospital clinics where women who had potential symptoms of breast cancer may be referred.
In some cases, women may have availed of this service and then may have decided not to accept the BreastCheck invitation.
About 2,700 women are diagnosed with the disease annually and 790 die from the cancer.
Dr Anne O'Doherty, from BreastCheck, said that since the programme started in 2000 it had found 7,900 new cancers.
It was important the take-up did not fall below 70pc to achieve the target to reduce deaths from the disease by 20pc.