BreastScreen plea from MPs

The latest BreastScreen Victoria participation figures show an alarming number of women in Western Victoria have not been screened for breast cancer.

Labor MPs Jaala Pulford, Juliana Addison and Catherine King today visited Ballarat BreastScreen at the Queen Elizabeth Centre to urge local women aged from 50 to 74 to get a free breast screen.

The latest BreastScreen Victoria participation statistics for Western Victoria reveal that only 58% of women in the electorate aged 50-74 had a mammogram between 2016 and 2018. Across the state, the participation rate is 54%.

Ms Pulford said regular breast screens are an essential component of women’s well-being over the age of 50.

“I’m calling on local women to prioritise a breast screen every two years, along with other important routine health checks,” Ms Pulford said.

“This result tells us that 32,972 women across Western Victoria didn’t have a breast screen in the two years to the end of June 2018 and I hope we see this number decrease as more women prioritise their health,” she said.

BreastScreen Victoria statistics have revealed that an estimated 1,500 women in Victoria might have breast cancer, but don’t know it because they haven’t had a breast screen. Approximately 186 of those women live in Western Victoria.

Ms Addison said it was important for family members to also encourage regular screening.

“If you’re not yet in the 50-74 age bracket, perhaps you can support someone you know to have a breast screen. Maybe you can even go with them to their appointment. A  breast screen takes just 10 minutes, is with a woman and it is free,” Ms Addison said.

Across lower house electorates in Western Victoria, women in the Lowan electorate had the highest participation in the BreastScreen program at 62%, followed by Wendouree at 59%, South West Coast at 58%, Ripon at 57% and Polwarth and Buninyong at 56%.

Seventy-five percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, the vast majority of whom have no family history of the disease. BreastScreen Victoria targets women aged 50-74 with early detection giving women the best chance of successful treatment and recovery.

Ms King said sadly, one in seven Australian women will develop breast cancer.

“Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a close relative with the disease, so we all need to ensure we keep a close eye on our health,” she said.

“The best way to catch breast cancer early is to get a breast screen, this can catch the disease even before it grows into a lump that you can feel and will give you the best chance of a quick recovery,” Ms King said.

Appointments at BreastScreen Victoria can be made online at breastscreen.org.au or by calling 13 20 50.

Local BreastScreen Victoria locations are in Ballarat, Hamilton, Horsham, Maryborough, Melton, Portland, Warracknabeal and Warrnambool.

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