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BreastCheck Publishes Screening Statistics for 2015-2016 - Press Release (09 August 2017)

A milestone year with highest recorded number of women screened and cancers detected 

Today BreastCheck – The HSE National Breast Screening Programme published its screening statistics for 2015-2016, highlighting some key achievements, making it a significant year for the programme.

The report highlights that BreastCheck invited 198,986 women for screening with a total of 145,822 women attending for a mammogram and 986 cancers detected. This is both the highest number of women ever screened and the highest number of cancers diagnosed in a single year by BreastCheck since the programme commenced screening in 2000.

Minister Simon Harris said  "Screening saves lives and I want commend the National Screening Service on the achievements shown by the latest BreastCheck report . The report highlights the highest levels of screening recorded for the BreastCheck programme as well as the highest levels of cancers detected. I would like to take the opportunity to encourage anyone who is called for breast screening to avail of the offer and also to attend other screenings you may be called for such as BowelScreen and CervicalCheck."

Commenting on the report, Charles O’Hanlon, Head of Screening at the National Screening Service, said: “It was a significant year for the programme, which surpassed its previous highest records of women screened and cancers detected. BreastCheck also detected and treated almost 400 small invasive cancers, which is the highest number in any single year since screening began. Meanwhile, the programme also commenced roll out of age extension to women aged 65 years, while continuing to maintain high screening uptake of 74.7 per cent.”

“Expanding the free screening age range is an important development for BreastCheck. It has long been our intention to increase the upper screening age of BreastCheck to women aged 69 years, as there is clear evidence to support this. In 2015, the first women in the older age cohort, women aged 65, received their invitation to screening. There was high uptake among this group, with over 950 women screened. Prior to this, the eligible age range for breast screening was 50 to 64 years old. Age extension will continue on a phased basis. Our objective is that by the end of 2021, eligible women aged 50 to 69 years old will be invited for free routine mammograms every two years. This will result in more cancers being detected at the earliest possible stage before they become life-threatening.” he added.

While the latest statistics are positive, we are seeing a slight decrease in the uptake rate based on the eligible female population availing of the BreastCheck programme. Currently the overall uptake rate stands at 74.7 per cent, which shows a decrease on the previous year (76.5 per cent). Overall, the uptake rate remains above the minimum acceptable level of 70 per cent.

BreastCheck’s Lead Clinical Director, Professor 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 70 per cent of eligible women attend their screenings. Therefore, it is crucial that we work to maintain the strong uptake rate achieved to date. Almost 90 per cent of women who come for their first BreastCheck mammogram come back again the next time they are invited. If you are invited by BreastCheck, please make time to go to the appointment. It may save your life.

“Overall, BreastCheck has much to celebrate. To date, the programme has provided more than 1.5 million mammograms to over 500,000 women and detected over 9,800 cancers, which is down to the hard work and dedication of radiographers, radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, breast care nurses and administrative staff across the country,” concluded Professor O’Doherty.

In summary, during the reporting period from 1 January and 31 December 2015:


                  198,986 women were invited by BreastCheck for screening. Of those, 195,145 were eligible and 145,822 women attended for a mammogram. The eligible uptake rate at 74.7 per cent surpassed the programme standard of 70 per cent.

                  Over 145,000 women responded to their invitation to screening.  This is the highest number ever screened by BreastCheck based on a single year of invitation.

                  986 cancers were detected. This represents the highest number of both total cases and invasive cases diagnosed in any year since the inception of BreastCheck.

                  399 small invasive cancers (<15mm) were detected and treated surgically. This is the highest number in any single year since BreastCheck began screening.

                  The programme was extended to the 65 year old age group for the first time with high uptake and over 950 women screened.


The BreastCheck Programme Report 2015-2016 can be viewed here.




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