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Record numbers of women found to have breast cancer

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Screening can save lives

Screening can save lives

Screening can save lives

The annual number of women diagnosed with breast cancer by BreastCheck, the national screening service, has reached record levels with 1,067 found to have the disease.

Women attending for screening reached an all-time high of 165,581, BreastCheck's new report for 2017-2018 reveals.

It led to the number of cancers detected in women who availed of a free mammogram during the year being the largest since screening began nearly two decades ago.

When BreastCheck was first introduced it offered a free mammogram every two years to women aged 50 to 64.

In 2015, an extension of the programme to include women aged 65 to 69 began on a phased basis, and is expected to be completed next year.

The take-up rate was 73.8pc in 2017-2018, which means around 63,000 women were invited and did not take up the free screening, reducing their chances of picking up potential breast cancer.

Women in the west of Ireland, particularly Co Sligo, Co Roscommon and Co Galway, as well as Co Wexford in the south-east, have the highest take-up.

It is lowest in Co Laois, Co Offaly and Co Westmeath, along with Dublin and Co Louth.

Writing in BreastCheck's annual report, clinical director Professor Ann O'Doherty said during the year the screening extended to women aged 66 and it will be offered to women aged 69 over time.

"As breast cancer incidence increases with age, this is an important development for the programme. The aim of BreastCheck is to reduce deaths from breast cancer by finding and treating the disease at the earliest possible stage," she said.

"At this point a detected cancer is usually easier to treat and there are greater treatment options available for the patient."

Invasive

The report shows that of the breast cancers detected, 846 were invasive - a cancer which has grown out of the milk ducts into the surrounding breast.

Most invasive cancers will spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

BreastCheck said nearly 99pc of women got their results within three weeks and 92.4pc of women diagnosed with breast cancer were offered admission to hospital within three weeks.