BREAST cancer claims the lives of more than 900 NSW women each year, yet despite these odds, over 400,000 women haven’t had their recommended screening mammogram in the past two years.
It’s an alarming number, considering newly released figures from BreastScreen NSW show that if each of these women were to have their mammogram, more than 2000 would be found to have breast cancer.
These figures show that in the LithgowBlue Mountains region alone, 50 women currently have breast cancer, but don’t know it.
BreastScreen NSW is now taking action to find the Blue Mountains 50 as part of finding the 2000 women across the state who currently have breast cancer but don’t realise it.
Led by comedian and women’s health advocate Jean Kittson, the ‘FIND the NSW 2000’ campaign is urging women aged 50 to 74 to book their free mammogram, so that these cancers can be found in their earliest stages, when the chances of successful treatment are highest.
“Breast screening is an important diagnostic tool that can detect breast cancer in its early stages which improves the rate of survival to 98 per cent,” Kittson said.
“Better still, breast screening is free, it is readily available, and it takes about 20 minutes for the actual screening process.
“The coffee and cake you have afterwards will take longer.
“I always go with a friend and we find that doing it gives you an enormous sense of having done something positive, for yourself and your loved ones.
“Then we go out for that piece of cake.”
Associate Professor Nirmala Pathmanathan, BreastScreen NSW and Director Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, urges women to make screening a priority.
“Breast cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of Australian women, yet only half of all eligible women in the BreastScreen NSW target age group are being screened regularly.
“We need to significantly increase the numbers of women screening and in turn reduce the numbers of women dying from this disease.”
Breast screening can find cancers when they are as small as a grain of rice, well before they can be seen or felt.
Almost all women who have their breast cancer detected at this early stage will recover.
If a screening mammogram picks up a cancer, treatment options are also improved and a woman is much less likely to need a mastectomy.
BreastScreen NSW believes in empowering women with the facts, motivating them to prioritise their own health and make biennial screening part of their ongoing healthcare routine.
In NSW there are over 200 screening locations and all radiographers are female.
You don’t need a referral from your doctor, just call BreastScreen NSW on 13 20 50 to book a free screening mammogram.