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.
The electorates with the highest participation rate in the State include:
1. Bellarine 63%
2. Niddrie 61%
3. Bendigo East 60%
4. Essendon 60%
5. Geelong 60%
The electorates with the lowest participation rate in the State include:
1. Prahran 45%
2. Albert Park 46%
3. Melbourne 47%
4. Carrum 49%
5. Dandenong 49%
6. Frankston 49%
7. Preston 49%
8. Richmond 49%
“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 BreastScreen’s 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 you’re eligible, it’s free through BreastScreen Victoria,” said Ms Thomas.
BreastScreen Victoria encourages women aged 50 to 74 to have a breast screen every two years. Research shows that these women benefit most from the program as 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50.
Book online at breastscreen.org.au or call 13 20 50.