FIFTEEN out of 1,000 mammograms of women aged between 50 and 69 in Cyprus, show indications of breast cancer, an official said on Friday.
According to the coordinator of the national breast cancer screening programme, Militsa Kouzali, around 3,000 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer since July 2003 when the programme has been running.
Kouzali said that so far, more than 200,000 mammograms have been carried out as part of the programme, while half a million invitations have been sent to women aged between 50 and 69 to get tested.
For every 1,000 mammograms carried out in Cyprus, 15 breast cancer cases are diagnosed, Kouzali told the Cyprus News Agency.
The screening programme was initially introduced in 2003 at the Aglandjia health centre, in Nicosia, and was gradually expanded to cover the entire island. Today, five mammogram centres operate in Nicosia, Limassol, Paphos, Larnaca and Famagusta.
Mammograms are offered free of charge to women of that age group who have a Cypriot identity card, regardless if they are beneficiaries of state healthcare. Usually, women of that age group are invited by the health ministry to participate in the programme through a letter.
Kouzali said that women then need to book an appointment at any of the mammogram centres, and that there are no long waiting lists. The longest women wait for a mammogram is usually up to a month, she said.
Women are encouraged to take the test every two years, she said.
In the case an anomaly is detected, she said, women are referred to further tests, such as clinical examination, ultrasound examination, biopsy and treatment.
Since 2012, the five centres have been equipped with digital mammography machines. This allows radiologists to capture and manipulate the images so abnormalities can be detected more easily.
The aim of the screening programme, Kouzali said, is the timely detection or prevention of breast cancer and the reduction of breast cancer mortality.