'Clarity' needed on breast cancer and cervical screening suspension, says charity
"Screening is a hugely important tool in the fight against cancer..."
A charity has asked for clarity following the suspension of breast cancer, cervical, and other cancer screening suspensions due to Covid-19.
The Marie Keating Foundation is hoping to work with the country's National Screening Service to establish a road-map for when vital cancer screening services can resume, and in what capacity they will operate.
A recent report from RTÉ News showed that no mammograms were carried out by BreastCheck last month, and that CervicalCheck labs saw a 96 percent reduction in samples delivered for analysis.
Both screening services were paused in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is not yet known when they will resume.
Director of nursing services Helen Forristal from the Marie Keating Foundation says that the charity "fully understands" the need to pause screening services in accordance with social distancing measures.
She is adamant, however, that "clarity" be given regarding the capacity in which services are likely to return, and who will be given priority.
"We are keen to understand and work with the National Screening Services to get clarity in relation to a road-map for when these services can resume safely and in particular what the capacity will be and what prioritisation will be given to those who may have had screening or follow up testing delayed," she says.
"Screening is a hugely important tool in the fight against cancer, however it is not a diagnostic tool and it focuses on our ‘well’ population. So, in the first instance it is vital that anyone with symptoms or concerns goes to see their GP without delay."
Dr Gabriel Scally, author of last year's CervicalCheck Scally report, told Morning Ireland recently that although services needed to be suspended, a resumption plan is needed.
"I am much more concerned about women who are developing symptoms at the present time who are going to need to be seen," he said.
"They should be encouraged to come in as soon as possible when those services reopen."