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Breast cancer patients hit by clinic backlog

DUBLIN's leading breast cancer clinic is facing delays of up to nine months, with some 1,000 patients waiting for an appointment.

The Mater Hospital said that it has around 1,000 women who have had a preliminary medical assessment and are still waiting to be seen.


Up to 400 of these will wait between three and nine months before they have a full medical assessment.

Waterford Regional Hospital said only 33pc of routine referrals are seen within the 12-week timeframe identified as optimal by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).

The NCCP admitted that some centres were experiencing difficulties in terms of workload, and said this was partly related to "the volume of both new patients and return visits" coupled with short-term staff absences.

A shortage of consultants and mammographers was also listed as a reason for the level of delays.

NCCP director Dr Susan O'Reilly said: "Our Key Performance Indicators reported by the hospitals track the percentage of women offered an appointment within two weeks for urgent cases and 12 weeks for non-urgent cases.

"The target is 95pc of referrals in each category."

Breast cancer is one of the most common types in Ireland, with an average of 2,700 cases diagnosed each year.


Research published last week in the Journal of Cancer Research showed that women who took aspirin regularly before being diagnosed with breast cancer were less likely to have it spread to the lymph nodes.

These women were also less likely to die from their breast cancer.