49,323 fail to take up offer of free mammogram
More than 49,300 women who were invited for free breast cancer screening under the Breastcheck programme last year did not avail of the service.
It means that the numbers fell from 76.5pc to 74.7pc during 2015-2016, new figures reveal.
Some 195,145 were invited, but just 145,822 attended for a free mammogram.
The annual report revealed that 986 cancers were detected in the course of the year.
Some 399 small invasive cancers were found and treated surgically.
The programme, which starts for women aged 50, was extended to the 65-year-old age group for the first time.
There was a high uptake among the older age group with 950 turning up for screening.
BreastCheck's lead clinical director, Prof Ann 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 70pc of eligible women attend their screenings.
"Therefore, it is crucial that we work to maintain the strong uptake rate achieved to date. If you are invited by BreastCheck, please make time to go."