A united front of people power and political lobbying has been widely applauded for their combined influence in finally bringing Breastcheck – the National Breast Screening Programme – to Waterford.
offering them a free mammogram (breast x-ray) in the coming months, after the National Cancer Screening Service confirmed on Monday that the BreastCheck mobile digital screening unit will arrive on the grounds of the Whitfield Clinic in the city on 30th August. The BreastCheck unit will be located on the grounds for approximately six months, until all eligible women (aged 50-64) have been offered an appointment.
BreastCheck has already provided in excess of 2,000 women living in Dungarvan and surrounding areas with their free mammogram. The relatively simple procedure takes about half an hour in total and the vast majority of women screened are found to be perfectly healthy, with less than one per cent diagnosed with cancer. BreastCheck will begin sending women in the city and surrounding areas a letter with information about breast screening later in July. Following this, a woman will automatically receive an appointment by post, giving a minimum of seven days notice.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in Ireland, with approximately 1,600 new cases are diagnosed each year. If detected early, breast cancer is very treatable. BreastCheck advises all women aged 50-64 to check that they are on the BreastCheck register. Once on the register and known to the Programme, women will automatically receive a BreastCheck appointment. Women can check that they are on the register by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or checking online at www.breastcheck.ie.
The arrival of Breastcheck follows a long and protracted campaign in the city, spearheaded by Marie Cummins and the Women of Waterford group and present and former members of the City Council, amongst them Labour’s Cllr Seamus Ryan and former Mayor Mary O’Halloran.
Welcoming the news at Monday’s meeting of the Council, Cllr Seamus Ryan commended all those involved in the prolonged campaign, including those who signed a petition and marched with the Women of Waterford group last October. He urged all invited women to attend their Breastcheck appointment.
Cllr David Cullinane said it was fantastic news, adding that the next step should be the implementation of full radiotherapy services at Waterford Regional Hospital. Cllr Tom Cunningham noted that bringing Breastcheck to Waterford had been the principal aim of former Fine Gael councillor Mary O’Halloran when she became Mayor and Cllr Mary Roche took issue with the non-screening of women over 64 years of age. Cllr Jack Walsh said it was disgraceful that medical card patients under 50 years of age could not receive a scan if they requested one.