EXTENDING breast cancer screening to older women could save eight lives in Limerick every year, according to the Irish Cancer Society.
And the charity is urging the women of Limerick to support them outside Leinster House next week in an effort to persuade the government to live up to its promise to include women aged 65 to 69 in BreastCheck.
The ICS has also called on Limerick’s Oireachtas members to support them and will hand in a petition calling on the Minister for Health to include the screening extension in the HSE’s National Services Plan for 2015.
Extending screening to this cohort of women was first pledged in the programme for government in 2011 with a target of 2014 already missed.
Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy and communications at the ICS, said: “When BreastCheck is extended to women in this age group, every year 87 lives will be saved across the country. In Limerick, eight women will be saved every year”.
“We are asking anyone who is aged between 65 and 69 or who has a mother, grandmother, sister or friend in this age group to wear pink and join us at Leinster House on Tuesday, September 30 at 12pm and demand the Government doesn’t forget about these women,” said Ms O’Meara, a former senator from north Tipperary.
Women in their 60s had the second highest incidence of breast cancer but only half were currently covered by BreastCheck, which provides free mammograms every two years to women aged between 50 and 64.
“We know from the scientific research that early detection of cancers offer the best chance for successful treatment and cure. A BreastCheck mammogram is a simple procedure and the appointment only takes half an hour but could save a life,” said Ms O’Meara.
Limerick women interested in taking the campaign to the Dail are asked to congregate in the square beside Agriculture House on Kildare Street next Tuesday at 12 noon.