Medical Q&As

Mammogram - want one done?

Can I have a BreastCheck mammogram? I am 45 years old and living in County Clare. There is a strong history of cancer in my family (although not breast cancer) and I have regular checkups on my general health. I am anxious to have a mammogram done but the last time I mentioned it to my doctor, it was dismissed as not being necessary until I was older. Am I entitled to have a mammogram if I choose to do so? How do I go about it? I am willing to pay for it myself.

BreastCheck, the national screening programme is not yet available nationwide and even if it were you would not be a candidate for screening within the terms of that programme because of your age. BreastCheck provides screening for breast cancer in women between the ages of 50 to 64 years only. The cut off point of 50 years was chosen because a mammogram is less reliable in diagnosing suspicious lumps in women below the age of 50. I suspect that is the reason why your GP suggested deferring the examination until you were older. However, you could still have a mammogram performed in a private diagnostic imaging facility once you had been referred by your GP. You could have the test performed but you need to be aware of its limitations. Mammograms are not universally reliable in all age groups.