Your ‘Free’ Mammogram is it enough?

This week women all over Ireland, myself included, welcomed the return of our Breast Cancer Screening Program, which had been suspended since March due to Covid.

We urge ALL women to take up the offer of a Free BreastCheck Screening Mammogram, it is so important that you do.

Is YOUR Free Mammogram enough?

The answer to this is NO, not if …

IF you are one of thousands of women with Dense Breasts your Free Mammogram is unequivocally NOT enough. On their own, Mammograms are NOT reliable imaging tools for 40% of women. It’s yet another flaw in Women’s Screening that has been swept under the carpet. It’s not talked about. Even when women ask about it, they’re NOT told. In fact simply talking about Breast Density in relation to Breast Cancer Screening seems to upset the Status Quo, it’s not even perceived as being politically correct, yet 40% of all women have Dense Breasts.

Women in Ireland, sure aren’t they lucky to be offered a Free Mammogram, well YES, absolutely.

When a Mammogram clearly shows large areas of Density however, that woman should be, at the very least, advised at source of that Radiological finding. She should be invited to avail of reliable, early detection, additional and essential imaging. A recall could be made to inform and discuss these options with her.

How do you find out if you have Dense Breasts?  The answer to that is, your Free Mammogram will show if you have Dense Breasts, so the Radiologists who read it will know.

Unfortunately the Radiologists who read your Free Mammogram don’t have to tell you – I know, mad isn’t it?

In fact the Radiologists who read your BreastCheck Mammogram don’t have to tell you anything. After your Free Mammogram you’ll get a Letter in the post from BreastCheck. If the letter says that your Mammogram shows no evidence of Breast Cancer, you believe it, right? Well of course you do, all women do. I did.

I believed ALL of mine. Each time I went for my Free Mammogram, I waited for the letter and I believed what was written down and signed by BreastCheck.

The crucial bit of information that BreastCheck failed to include, in all or any of those letters to me, was that my Free Mammograms, all of them, had shown, quite clearly that I had Extremely Dense Breasts. The Radiologists had known for years, I on the other hand had no idea.

If I had been told I had Dense Breasts, my Cancer would have been Diagnosed years earlier. I would have been having Ultrasounds, possibly MRI’S with my Mammograms, because I would have made sure of that.

Research studies suggest women with Dense Breasts are 4 – 6 times more likely to develop Breast Cancer compared to women with Fatty Breasts. Breast Density masks Cancer Tumours on a Mammogram. Breast Density is a significant risk factor and may be hereditary. Breast Density is not palpable and a woman cannot know she has Dense Tissue unless she is told. Breast Density is a more significant risk factor for Breast Cancer than Familial Risk.

Why would any ‘Thinking Woman’, interested in her own Breast Health want to know any of those facts?

Well it appears that BreastCheck, the HSE, the NCCP have made that Life Changing Decision for us.

They’ve obviously decided that we don’t need to know BECAUSE they DON’T tell us.

I continue to go for my Mammogram. It only takes half the time now since my right mastectomy.

Again,I urge women to take up their offer of a Free BreastCheck Mammogram. Not all women have Dense Breasts. Not all women with Densebreasts will go on to develop Breast Cancer, but any population Breast Screening program has to offer reliable imaging to all women and that includes women who have Dense Breasts. urge BreastCheck to do the right thing for women like me. Women with Dense Breasts need to be notified. They need to be provided with advice on appropriate Screening, so that they can be on a reliable Breast Cancer Screening Surveillance Program – because for them a Free Mammogram is NOT enough.

It was NOT enough for me.


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