Include women aged between 30 - 49 on the Breast Check screening program

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October is breast cancer awareness month, and I would like to use this time to highlight an important issue and to increase people’s awareness to checking for symptoms of Breast Cancer, in particular for women aged between 30 – 49, who are currently not included on the national Breast Check Mammogram screening program.

I have decided to petition for this change to the national screening program in an effort to help so many young women who are currently not being offered screening. Just like the cervical check program has proved that early detection saves lives, we need to fight to have younger women included in a vital screening program, and give them the tools and every chance possible to allow for early diagnosis, and higher survival rates.

These are young women with their whole lives ahead of them, families to care for and careers to pursue. Their lives may be put on hold temporarily to fight this disease, but it should only be that, and not the ultimate fight. We can only hope for this with increased awareness for self-checks together with the backup of being included on the screening program to provide them with more in-depth checks regularly.

Routine breast check mammograms are currently offered to women in Ireland between the ages of 50 – 69 years every 2 years, as according to their site; “70% of breast cancer occurs in women over 50 years of age”.

Having heard of so many women receiving treatment for breast cancer below this age group, I feel it necessary to petition for the age range to be increased to include women between 30 – 49 years also.

Mammogram screening is important, and screening has been shown to lower the number of women dying from breast cancer, and these lives are saved because cancers are diagnosed and treated earlier than they would have been without screening. If breast cancer is found early, it is easier to treat and a woman has a high chance of a good recovery. That is why I feel it so important to increase the age limit of screening and include the 30 – 49 year olds in the Breast Check screening program.

No screening tool is 100 per cent effective and breast screening does not find all breast cancer, this is why it is important to point out that mammogram screening is not the only method to check for changes in the breast.

It also very important for everyone to perform regular checks on their breasts to become familiar with what should feel normal for them. If checked regularly then any differences noticed can then be checked by your GP and further referrals for a mammogram can be made if necessary. Early detection is key, so getting in on a routine of performing these checks monthly will make all the difference

 

Current statistics for breast cancer in Ireland

  • 1 in 9 women develop breast cancer in their lifetime
  • 2800 new cases diagnosed per year

These are broken down as follows:

  • 14% women under 45                            =             392 of 2800
  •  49% women between 45-64                 =             1,372 of 2800 **  note 45-49 year olds are not currently scanned
  • 37% women over 65                               =             1,036 of 2800
  • Only 5%  -10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary


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