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Annual Report Highlights Record 78.1% Acceptance Rate

In 2006 BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme provided free breast screening to 63,271 women – the highest number of women screened by the Programme to date.  The 2006/2007 Annual Report highlights the rate of overall acceptance of invitation to screening reaching 78.1% of eligible women, an increase on the number of invitations accepted in 2005 and in excess of the programme target of 70%. 

Of the 63,271 women screened in 2006, 1,903 were recalled for assessment.  Three hundred and thirty seven of those women recalled were diagnosed with breast cancer, representing 5.3 cancers per 1,000 women screened, compared to 5.3 in 2005 and 6.1 in 2004.  In 2006 19,527 of all women screened were new to the programme and 43,744 women had attended at least one previous BreastCheck appointment.

Overall, in 2006:

  • BreastCheck screened 63,271 women – the highest number of women screened by the Programme to date
  • BreastCheck performed consistently highly against the standards identified in the Women’s Charter*
  • The deployment of a mobile unit in Roscommon delivered early commencement of screening in the Expansion area
  • Screening commenced at the Western Unit in Galway and Southern Unit in Cork in December 2007.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Officer Tony O’Brien said: “Immense progress has been made by BreastCheck throughout 2006 and early 2007.  Over 63,000 women were screened as acceptance of invitation reached 78.1%, the highest level of acceptance since the Programme began. The target for timely admission to hospital was exceeded for the first time since the Programme began with 94.4% of women diagnosed with breast cancer admitted for treatment within three weeks of diagnosis. Furthermore, the OECD ranked BreastCheck fifth in the world for percentage of women screened in its 2007 ‘Health at a Glance’ survey, ahead of long established screening programmes in countries including the UK, USA, France and Australia”.

Following the establishment of the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) by the Minister for Health and Children in January 07, governance of BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme was transferred to The National Cancer Screening Service Board.  The BreastCheck service is a quality assured, population based screening programme that operates using multi-disciplinary teams with specialist expertise in the areas of breast screening, cancer detection and treatment. 

National Expansion

The construction of two new BreastCheck Clinical Units based at the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork and University College Hospital in Galway is complete. 

With screening in the West and the South commencing in December 2007 a major recruitment drive has been underway and the appointment of appropriate staff is nearing completion.  Clinical Directors, Consultant Radiologists, Consultant Surgeons, Consultant Histopathologists and Consultant Anaesthetists, all with a special training and interest in breast disease, have also been appointed.  In addition, Unit Managers, Radiography Service Managers and a number of client service posts have been successfully filled. 


BreastCheck has developed a National Radiography Training Centre to support mammography in both screening and symptomatic services.  BreastImaging, The National Radiography Training Centre officially opened and welcomed its first post-graduate students this year.  The Centre will prove vital to BreastCheck’s efforts to recruit the large number of mammographers required to serve national expansion by training post-graduate radiographers in mammography.   BreastImaging will also provide an invaluable service in respect of symptomatic breast disease as part of the implementation of the Cancer Control Strategy.

Digital Mammography 

BreastCheck will commence screening in Cork and Galway using digital mammography technology.  Replacement of conventional screening equipment with digital technology in the existing Merrion Unit is now complete and is underway at the Eccles Unit and the existing mobile units.

BreastCheck CEO Tony O’Brien concluded: “Early commencement of screening in the Expansion area was achieved in 2007 with the deployment of a digital mobile unit in Roscommon.  We are committed to the continued delivery of a quality assured screening programme that uses specialist expertise and multi disciplinary teams to achieve our goal of reducing the number of deaths from breast cancer through early detection and treatment.”


*The Women's Charter is BreastCheck’s client charter. This was developed to inform women about the screening process and to identify service-related targets to deliver to the woman.

Note on Quality Assurance

BreastCheck provides a high quality screening service and aims to detect the maximum number of breast cancers at the earliest possible stage. 

While it is internationally accepted that no screening system is 100 per cent accurate, BreastCheck aims to ensure that the screening service is as safe and effective as possible and wishes to highlight the following quality standards.

Reading of Mammograms

As a safety measure, every BreastCheck mammogram (breast x-ray) is read independently by specially trained radiologists.

Multidisciplinary Teams

A specialist BreastCheck multi-disciplinary team provides the screening service to women. The multi-disciplinary team is involved in the screening, detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. The majority of the mammogram results are perfectly normal, however where a woman requires a further review the team use a ‘triple assessment’ approach. This includes clinical examination, additional mammography and other tests.

Quality Assurance Systems

Service standards and Quality Assurance systems are in place throughout BreastCheck. These high level standards are in line with international guidelines to ensure that the best service is provided to women.


BreastCheck has high quality control standards in place for the management of mammography equipment. The team responsible for the screening equipment ensure that routine quality monitoring and audits are performed. The equipment used by BreastCheck is no older than seven years.


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