Undiagnosed breast cancer in Far West LHD

As many as ten women in Far West Local Health District may have breast cancer but don’t know it because they haven’t had a mammogram in the past two years.

The data, released by the Cancer Institute NSW during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also shows 2,502 women aged 50 to 74 in Far West LHD are either overdue for a mammogram or have never had one.

Melissa Cumming, Director Cancer Services Far West LHD, said she hopes the data will encourage all women aged 50 to 74 to have a potentially life-saving mammogram and make simple lifestyle changes to reduce their breast cancer risk.

“Encouragingly, overall screening numbers across the state are on the rise, which shows our breast screening message is getting across,” said Ms Cumming.

“However, each year 950 women in NSW die from breast cancer and our data shows 2,502 women locally are not attending their recommended two-yearly mammograms.

“Women tend to have a perception breast cancer is common, but don’t think it will happen to them. That’s why it can be easy to forget to schedule a mammogram or not make it a priority.

“Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer before it can be seen or felt, which allows for less invasive treatment and better recovery. They’re also free of charge,” said Ms Cumming.

Ways to reduce your breast cancer risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Reduce alcohol intake.
  • Quit smoking.

Local Breast Care Nurse Jo Beven said women from age 40 are entitled to free screening mammograms as well as women older than 74.

“It only takes a few minutes and it could save a life. Women should remember that the smaller the cancer, the easier it is to treat and cure. While screening mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early, it is also very important to continue to do regular breast self examinations,” said Ms Beven.

“We have an excellent screening service in Broken Hill, with expert staff to provide a quality assessment service to local women so they don’t have to travel to be screened. If called back for assessment, the women can have further investigations here without the need to travel for biopsy or results.”

Local Breast Care Nurse Jo Beven is available on 0408 999 253 for any queries regarding the screening and assessment process.

Since 1 July 2015, the Cancer Institute NSW has invested more than $4 million on public awareness and education campaigns for breast cancer screening, and awarded more than $2.5 million to local community, health and primary care organisations to promote breast cancer screening.

Breast screening participation rates are driven by many factors, including population growth and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, which have lower rates of screening than the general population. Indigenous women are also strongly encouraged to have regular screening mammograms as they have poorer screening rates than non indigenous women.

The Cancer Institute NSW targets these communities through various partnerships, services and funding, including $700,000 since 2016 to improve breast screening participation among CALD women.

In addition to 46 BreastScreen sites, BreastScreen NSW has 16 mobile vans that provide services to about 180 locations across NSW, specifically in rural and remote areas.

To book a mammogram today with BreastScreen NSW, please phone 13 20 50. You can search for your nearest BreastScreen NSW service by visiting breastscreen.nsw.gov.au



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