Strong Calls to Extend BreastCheck Programme

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor attended the BreastCheck extension event early last week. The event, coordinated by the Irish Cancer Society called on the Government to extend the free BreastCheck screening. BreastCheck currently provides free mammograms and a recall program to all eligible women aged 50-64 years.

A constant champion of women’s health, the T.D. came out to show her support for the efforts to extend the BreastCheck programme to include women up to age 69, and to continue efforts to raise awareness about this cause that effects millions of women and their families annually. Breast cancer survival in Ireland has improved significantly in recent years due to the combined approach of screening, symptomatic detection and improved treatment.

Screenings are of the utmost importance to women’s health as early detection is key in the battle against breast cancer. According to the Irish Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the country. Breast cancer is most commonly found in those over the age of 50.

More than 70% of women offered screening accept it, which is very positive. However, acceptance rates for those invited for the first time has fallen to 66%. BreastCheck is initiating an advertising campaign to help raise awareness about the need to go for regular breast screening.

Breast cancer survival rates have improved significantly in recent years due to better screening programs and advances in treatment. Hopefully, survival rates can be improved even further through the extension of the BreastCheck program. Even with its limited scope, the BreastCheck campaign has already made an impact, over 144,000 women were screened in 2013 compared with 128,800 in 2012.

A healthy lifestyle is always the best defense against cancer. Making healthy lifestyle choices like choosing a balanced diet, practicing regular exercise, and limiting exposure to cigarette smoke, are all key to reducing the risk of cancer. A healthy lifestyle also includes preemptive screenings and body awareness.It is critical for women to know what is normal for their own bodies and to be aware of changes, be they day to day or over years.

October is the international Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to take a moment or two to learn more and find out how you can stand with Mary in making sure women aged 50 to 69 have access to preemptive care.

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