Dáil Éireann - Volume 599 - 23 March, 2005

Written Answers - Cancer Screening Programme.

  26. Mr. Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if over 200 lives per annum would be saved in the south and west if the BreastCheck programme was up and running; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9518/05]

  131. Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her views on reports that failure to roll out BreastCheck in the south and west may result in the deaths of up to 400 women; the steps she is taking to address this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9548/05]

[1786]   Ms Harney:I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 131 together.

Any woman, irrespective of her age or residence, who has concerns about breast cancer should contact her GP who, where appropriate, will refer her to the symptomatic services in her area. More than €60 million has been invested in the development of symptomatic breast disease services since 2000. This investment has enabled the appointment of additional surgeons with an interest in breast disease, histopathologists and radiologists to enhance the delivery of breast cancer services nationally.

Data supplied by the national cancer registry show that the overall survival rate from cancer has increased between the periods 1995-97 and 1998-2000 with the five year survival rate from breast cancer increasing from 73% to 79% over the period.

The full implementation of BreastCheck requires significant capital and human resources, including two static clinical units, mobile screening units, multi-disciplinary consultant teams and radiographers together with technical and administrative support. A capital investment of €21 million has been approved to construct and equip the two clinical units, one in Cork and the other in Galway, and to provide for mobile units. The investment will ensure that breast screening and follow up treatment, where appropriate, is available to all women in the target group throughout the country. Additional capital funding of €3 million has been approved for the relocation and development of the symptomatic breast disease unit, in tandem with the BreastCheck development, at University College Hospital, Galway.

The design briefs in respect of the capital projects have been completed. It is anticipated that the advertisement for the appointment of a design team will be placed in the EU journal shortly. I am confident that the target of date of 2007 for the expansion of BreastCheck nationally will be met.