Women in Far West unaware of their breast cancer risk

Far too many women in the Far West may be unaware of their risk of breast cancer, despite the fact that 9 in 10 women diagnosed don’t have a family history.

More than two-thirds of women (65 per cent) surveyed by the Cancer Institute NSW think they are not at risk of developing breast cancer because they don’t have a family history.

Melissa Cumming, Director of Cancer Services, Far West LHD said this lack of personal susceptibility to breast cancer demonstrates the need to continue urging women locally to have a mammogram with BreastScreen NSW every two years.

“The risk is real for every woman aged 50 to 74. One in eight women in NSW will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and less than 10 per cent of them will have a family history,” said Ms Cumming.

“That’s why all women in this age group should screen for breast cancer, regardless of whether they have a family history.

“By detecting breast cancer early, breast screening not only saves lives but also reduces the likelihood of a woman needing invasive treatment, such as a mastectomy or chemotherapy. We have come a long way with cancer treatment but the reality is that the more extensive the cancer is, the more it can detrimentally affect quality of life.

Jo Beven, McGrath Breast Care Nurse said: “Just over 45% for Far West LHD women are accessing a free, state-of-the-art mammogram through BreastScreen NSW each year.

“The more having a mammogram with BreastScreen NSW becomes part of your normal two-yearly health routine, the easier it is to keep going. The key is to get the momentum started. BreastScreen will be back in Broken Hill in August this year”.

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

In 2019, it’s expected more than 24 women in Far West Local Health District will be told they have breast cancer and there will be about four women who will die from breast cancer.

Ms Cumming said that when it comes to reducing breast cancer risk, it is also vital to focus on lifestyle factors within a woman’s control.

“While a family history can’t be changed, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking are all things that can significantly reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer,” she said.

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




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