Gino Kenny TD, the People Before Profit spokesperson on health, has welcomed the Dáil business committee agreeing to his request for time to be allocated to debate the issue of breast cancer in the Dáil. People Before Profit had published a motion on breast cancer in March of this year and had being pushing at business committee for a debate on the matter.
October is breast cancer awareness month.
Deputy Kenny said there was a large increase in the percentage presenting with stage I cancer for women in the screening age-group (50-64 years), from 23% in 1994-1999 to 44% in 2008-2015, and Ireland had the 8th highest incidence rate and 5th highest mortality rate for female breast cancer in the EU in 2020.
He said that it is a major concern that women over 50 are now waiting up to 3 years to be called for screening.
He said: “The percentage of younger women with a late stage (III or IV) diagnosis increased from 18% in 1994-1999 to 22% in 2008- 2015. Almost a quarter of cases occur in women under 50 and therefore outside the screening process. Screening from age 40 takes place in a number of countries such as Austria, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Slovakia and Portugal. In some regions in Sweden where screening was introduced for 40-49 year-olds, the death rate reduced by 26% compared to regions who didn’t.”
Deputy Kenny called for the Government to introduce screening for breast cancer from the age of 40 provided by publicly funded and run programme.
Young women generally face more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates as well as being more liable to get cancer due to genetic mutations. Deputy Kenny expressed concern that women under 40 are reporting that they are finding it hard to access early diagnosis and that Ireland does not make genetic testing available to all asymptomatic women at high risk of BRCA related breast cancer.
He said: “The Government needs to allocate the funding required to guarantee immediate access to diagnostics services for young women at risk of breast cancer and for genetic testing so that all women at high risk of BRCA related breast cancer have access to genetic testing and genetic counselling in the public health system. I am calling on all parties and independent members in the Dáil to support this motion when it comes for debate.”