A CORK grandmother and breast cancer survivor has urged women to attend BreastCheck appointments.
Eilish Hayes has said she doesn’t know where she would be today if she hadn’t attended her BreastCheck appointment.
Ms Hayes, aged 52, said she was glad she didn’t ignore her appointment letter when she received it.
“I want to encourage every woman who gets a BreastCheck letter to please go for a mammogram,” Ms Hayes said.
“It’s free. I don’t know where I would be today, or how the tumour would have progressed if I had not gone for my BreastCheck appointment. If they catch it early, they can help you to get through it.”
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BreastCheck, the National Breast Screening Programme is asking all eligible women to put themselves first and attend their appointment when invited.
Although screening is an effective way of detecting changes in the breast when there are no symptoms, more than one in four women are still not attending their appointment when called.
Last year, almost 50,000 women nationally did not attend their appointments.
According to BreastCheck, the risk of breast cancer increases with age and it is important that all eligible women avail of their regular free mammogram every two years, so that changes can be identified at an early stage.
If a breast cancer is found early, it is generally easier to treat and there are more treatment options available.
Breast screening allows earlier detection which leads to better outcomes, according to BreastCheck lead clinical director Professor Ann O’Doherty.
“Smaller tumours can be treated with more conserving surgery and there is usually less requirement for chemotherapy”.
Although a mammogram can be uncomfortable for many women, it can save your life. Most women who do attend their first mammogram decide to attend again, with eight out of ten women returning for their next mammogram when they receive their appointment.
BreastCheck is also asking women who have already participated in the programme to encourage other women of similar ages to attend for screening and to support their fellow sisters, work colleagues and friends to make this one positive step.
BreastCheck currently invites women aged 50 to 66 for bi-annual mammograms.
Eligible women to make sure they are on the BreastCheck register by checking online at www.breastcheck.ie or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55.
BreastCheck urges all women, regardless of age or participation in screening, to remain breast aware at all times and to contact their GP without delay, if they have any concerns regarding breast cancer.