Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
108. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received a letter dated 11 June 2009 regarding breast screening and mammography in County Kerry; the action she will take with regard to the transfer of the mammography service from Kerry General Hospital to BreastCheck in relation to the equipment used, the collection of data and transparency on the location and by whom the X-rays are read; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25293/09]
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): A number of questions regarding cancer services were raised in the letter of 11 June to which the Deputy refers. Since writing, the person concerned has had a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) and the Clinical Director of BreastCheck’s Southern Region. The person wrote to me again on 17 June to confirm that she has been reassured with regard to the reading of X-rays by BreastCheck radiologists at the Southern Screening Unit, located in Cork.
Symptomatic breast services at Kerry General Hospital are not transferring to BreastCheck and the person concerned confirmed her understanding of this situation at her meeting with the NCSS. Symptomatic breast services at the hospital have been transferred, under the National Cancer Control Programme, to Cork University Hospital. Follow-up mammography for symptomatic women will take place at Kerry General Hospital.
BreastCheck began screening women aged 50-64 years in County Kerry in April this year from a mobile unit using digital mammography. The person concerned has raised questions regarding the effectiveness of digital mammography. There is significant evidence that digital mammography is at least as effective as the modality which it replaces. Experience in BreastCheck to date indicates that the numbers of breast cancers being detected has increased as a result of the availability of digital mammography. All replacement mammography equipment in screening programmes worldwide is now in the digital modality.
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