BreastScreen check can save lives, North Central Review (Kilmore), Melbourne

WOMEN across the district are being urged to participate in the free BreastScreen Victoria program. New data shows 55 per cent of women aged 50-69 in the electorate of Northern Victoria participate in the program, according to Member for Northern Victoria, Jaclyn Symes. This compares to the statewide average of 54 per cent and a BreastScreen Australia target of 70 per cent. Ms Symes said across Victoria, 47 electorates were above the state wide average, including Northern Victoria, with lower house seats of Eildon 55 per cent, Euroa 55 per cent, Macedon 57 per cent, and Yan Yean 53 per cent. We know finding breast cancer early and treating it gives women the best chance of survival, Ms Symes said. Women, particularly those aged 50-74 are recommended to have a regular breast screen every two years by contacting their local doctor or BreastScreen Victoria if they havent already. BreastScreen Victoria has 39 permanent screening clinics and eight assessment services across Victoria, and its mobile screening service visits 31 locations every two years. Women can attend any screening clinic that is convenient. Some clinics offer out-of-hours appointments, including Saturdays, and group bookings are available. The latest BreastScreen Victoria participation statistics reveal almost half of the state is below average when it comes to having a free breast screen. The Electorate Report Cards, released to Members of Parliament today by Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mary-Anne Thomas, detail the participation rate of women aged 50-69 in the BreastScreen Victoria program. In 2012-14, the statewide average participation rate was 54 per cent. While 47 electorates were above average, 33 electorates were below average. Eight electorates were in line with the average. This data reminds us that we have more to do to raise awareness of the importance of regular breast screening, said Ms Thomas. BreastScreen Victoria CEO Vicki Pridmore said it was important to consider that the participation rates are influenced by many factors, including the ageing population meaning more women are entering the age range of BreastScreens target population of 50-74. Urban participation trends tend to be lower than rural and remote areas across screening programs in many countries due to the diversity of community, transience and lifestyle factors. Appointment availability may be an issue in specific areas and increased private screening in some areas may also contribute to a reduced participation rate, Ms Pridmore said. In 2014-15, the number of Victorian women screened in the Program was a record 241,122. Finding breast cancer early before any symptoms are noticed, and when treatment is most likely to be successful, gives women the best chance of survival. I encourage Victorian women, particularly those over the age of 50, to have their breasts screened regularly, and if youre eligible, its free through BreastScreen Victoria, said Ms Thomas. Research shows that these women benefit most from the program as 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50. To book an appointment, visit or call 13 20 50.