It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the head of BreastScreen NSW has a warning for local women…
New data shows a concerning number of women in Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai areas may not be keeping up with their recommended mammograms.
Almost 50,000 women in the Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) aged between 50 and 74 have skipped, or simply not taken advantage of the free scans offered by BreastScreen NSW.
Current recommendations are for women to undergo a mammogram every two years from the age of 50.
Meredith Kay, director of BreastScreen NSW Northern Sydney and Central Coast said regular mammograms are integral in detecting early stages of breast cancer, which boosts the likelihood of successful treatment.
“The smaller the cancer when you’re diagnosed, the more options you have for treatment,” she said.
“If your cancer is picked up by a screening mammogram, you’re less likely to need a mastectomy.”
Ms Kay said she was hopeful the continued efforts of encouraging breast cancer awareness would avoid complacency among women of all ages.
“Although these figures don’t include the portion of the population using other screening services, what we know is some women may be walking around with breast cancer and not know it because they haven’t had their regular mammogram,” she said.
“It’s important for us to keep the breast screening conversation going within our communities so that women can be reminded to take care of their health and hopefully this will create an ongoing culture of support.”
A majority of breast cancer cases are not genetically linked, with figures showing 9 out of 10 women who develop breast cancer don’t have a family history.
But that’s not the only startling statistic. “One in every eight women in NSW will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, so it’s particularly important to make sure women over 50 know why they should have a regular mammogram,” Ms Kay said.
Appointments take approximately 20 minutes and are free for women over 40 when arranged through BreastScreen NSW.
Mammograms through BreastScreen can be conducted at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital in Hornsby or at Fox Valley Medical Centre in Wahroonga. Call 13 20 50 to make an appointment or search for more information by visiting breastscreen.nsw.gov.au