A shocking one in four Derry women do not attend for routine breast screening appointments, the Public Health Authority has revealed.

A report released this week showed that a quarter of women in the Western Trust area failed to attend routine screening and mammograms.

Mammograms are routinely offered to women aged between 50-70 in Northern Ireland.

The PHA says that for every 400 women screened regularly by the breast cancer screening programme, over a 10-year period, one woman fewer will die from breast cancer than would have died without screening.

Karen Mullan from the Pink Ladies group, who successfully campaigned to save Altnagelvin’s Radiotherapy Centre, described the screening programme as “life saving”.

“At our Pink Ladies awareness sessions we encourage women to attend all their breast and cervical screening appointments,” she said.

“In fact many of our women had cancer detected through routine mammograms. Don’t be embarrassed.

“These appointments are life saving.”

“Prevention and early detection are key to saving lives,” said Dr Adrian Mairs, Consultant in Public Health, PHA and Quality Assurance Director for the Northern Ireland Breast Screening Programme.

“I would encourage all women who are invited for breast screening to attend.

“I would also encourage women over the age of 70 to contact their local breast screening unit to ensure they can continue to attend for breast screening.

“Many women don’t realise that the risk of breast cancer continues to increase with age.

“Our recent report on the breast screening service shows it is performing well and meets the national standards.

“Women should have every confidence using it.

“Breast screening remains the best way we have of detecting breast cancer at an early stage when treatment can be most effective.”