New figures reveal percentage of women proactively screening for breast cancer falling

Australian women aged between 50 and 74 are urged to ensure they are up-to-date with their breast screens following new national figures released that revealed the percentage of women who were screened in 2013/14 had fallen.

Page last updated: 01 July 2015

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1 July 2015

Minister for Health Sussan Ley today urged Australian women aged between 50 and 74 to ensure they are up-to-date with their breast screens following new national figures released today that revealed the percentage of women who were screened in 2013/14 had fallen.

Ms Ley said BreastScreen’s participation rate for women aged between 50 and 69 in 2013/14 was 53.7 per cent, down from 54.4 per cent in 2012/13 and from a national high of 57.6 per cent in 2001/02.

Ms Ley said participation in the national programme had continued to decline since the last national campaign in 2001. The Australian Government committed $55.7 million to a new national campaign and expanded services to improve awareness and boost screening rates.

“Breast screening saves lives. It is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Australia, however if detected early and managed, nine out of 10 cases can be treated successfully,” Ms Ley said.

“These new statistics are of concern and I encourage all women aged between 50 and 74 to ensure they are up-to-date with their breast screening appointments and to look out for the invitation as we know the more Australian women who are screened, the more cancers that are detected – it could literally save your life.”

Ms Ley said while overall the percentage of women being up-to-date with their BreastScreen had fallen it was encouraging that the percentage of women aged between 70 and 74 had risen sharply from 25.9 per cent in 2011/12 to over 40 per cent in 2013/14.

Ms Ley said she was confident this number would continue to rise as woman aged between 70-74 were now being invited to screen as part of the Australian Government’s expanded ‘An invitation that could save your life’ campaign.

“The additional screening delivered as a result of the expanded campaign could potentially lead to the detection of an extra 600 breast cancers a year,” Ms Ley said.

“While latest figures show that more older women are having free Breastscreen tests, it is disappointing that the rate among middle aged women continues to fall.”

The figures are contained in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s latest report on BreastScreen Australia and the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP).

BreastScreen Australia actively invites women in the target age group to undergo free screening mammograms every two years. The target age group was originally 50 to 69 years, but was extended to those aged 70 to 74 years in mid 2014.

Women aged between 40 and 49, or aged 75 and over may also attend the service free.

Since the introduction of BreastScreen Australia, there has been a reduction in breast cancer mortality in women 50 to 69 years of age of approximately 36.5 per cent.

As announced in the 2015-16 Budget to improve cancer detection, treatment and prevention the Abbott Government will establish a new National Cancer Screening Register and support the rollout of a new cervical cancer test that will improve survival rates while reducing the number of invasive checks required from every two years to five years.

Also released today were new figures that indicated participation in the National Cervical Screening Programme had remained steady at 57.8 per cent. The programme currently promotes routine cervical cancer screening with Pap smears every two years for women between 18 and 69 years, including those who have had the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

For the full report and statistics visit the AIHW website. For more information on program visit the National BreastScreen program website.

ENDS

Minister Ley’s Media Contact: James Murphy 0478 333 974

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