Kath & Kim star inspires rise in breast screening

5 April 2013

Comedian Gina Riley's revelation that she has breast cancer inspired a huge increase in women booking mammograms, BreastScreen services said.

In Riley's home town, Melbourne, a record was set for the number of women added to the BreastScreen register in one day after she revealed the lump had been discovered during a routine check-up.

Across the country, calls to the free mammogram booking service increased by 29 per cent, giving breast cancer advocates hope her public announcement would improve low screening rates. The day after Riley revealed her diagnosis, calls to BreastScreen Victoria increased by 81 per cent, chief executive Vicki Pridmore said.

"This spike continued throughout the week," she said.

Ms Pridmore said public women who revealed their breast cancer - such as Riley, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Kylie Minogue - made a huge difference.

"It's amazingly brave, and I don't think they release what a huge impact they have," she said.

"As soon as we see the news we immediately call in extra staff."

Cancer Institute NSW deputy chief executive Sanchia Aranda said calls in NSW had increased by about 18 per cent when Riley made her announcement.

She said it was particularly important Riley had found the lump through a mammogram.

"It reinforces the message that women need to participate in the national screening program," she said.

She said celebrity announcements could act like awareness campaigns.

"We are constantly trying to keep breast screening in women's minds, at the front of their attention, but you can't run awareness programs all the time because it becomes part of the background noise," she said.

Nationally only about 55 per cent of women in the target age range (50-69) take up the free mammogram service, well short of the 70 per cent target.

"Screening rates are much lower than we would like,'' Professor Aranda said.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/health/kath-amp-kim-star-inspires-rise-in-breast-screening-20130404-2h9uf.html#ixzz2PYjegPtW


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