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.
Director of BreastScreen NSW North Coast, Jane Walsh, 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,” Ms Walsh said.
“That’s why all women in this age group should be screened for breast cancer, regardless of whether they have a family history.
In 2019, it’s expected more than 288 women in the Northern NSW Local Health District will be told they have breast cancer and there will be about 41 women who will die from breast cancer.
“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.
“Including a visit to BreastScreen NSW every two years to have a mammogram as part of your regular health checks, means it is likely to become a ‘routine” and you will continue. The key is to get the momentum started.”
Ms Walsh said that when it comes to reducing breast cancer risk, it is also vital to focus on lifestyle factors within a woman’s control.
“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,” Ms Walsh said.
In addition to two fixed BreastScreen sites at Lismore and Tweed Heads, BreastScreen NSW has a mobile van in Northern NSW that provide services to people across a variety of locations, including rural and remote areas.
The mobile BreastScreen van is currently in Maclean and will move to Evans Head in late August. This makes it easier for some women to access the service.
To book a mammogram today at your nearest BreastScreen NSW service phone 13 20 50 or book online by visiting breastscreen.nsw.gov.au.