Pink BreastScreen Victoria vans to visit regional Aboriginal women with free handmade cultural screening shawls

Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Aboriginal women in regional Victoria will have easy access to free breast screens—the best way to find cancer early and save lives.

BreastScreen Victoria’s hot pink vans, known as “Nina” and “Marjorie”, are visiting Aboriginal community controlled health services across the state to give free breast screens to women aged 50 and over.

The first 50 women to receive a mammogram at each location will receive a free cultural screening shawl to wear during the procedure, and to take home with them. These shawls have been developed to make breast screening more comfortable for Aboriginal women, and feature a local artist’s work, unique to each community.

BreastScreen Victoria CEO, Vicki Pridmore, said that the initiative was a culmination of months of hard work and planning with project partner, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

“We hope that the beautiful shawls created by Aboriginal artists as a part of this project can assist women screening to feel comfortable, welcome and respected,” Ms Pridmore said.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Aboriginal women in Victoria. A breast screen can find cancer as small as a grain of rice, long before a woman or her doctor can see or feel anything.

Typically, women aged between 50 and 74 should have a breast screen every two years - the best way to find breast cancer early, when treatment is most effective.

All breast screens are with a female radiographer, in a friendly and safe environment. Clients don’t need a doctor’s referral or Medicare card, and only take 10 minutes.

Ms Pridmore is encouraging Aboriginal women aged 50 to 74 to take advantage of the van’s visit to their town.

“When found early, breast cancer can be treated very successfully. These visits have been organized with our partners at VACCHO to make sure women in this part of Victoria have access to a potentially life-saving breast screen,” said Ms Pridmore.

“The vans use the highest quality digital radiography machines to ensure that women receive the best service, regardless of their location.”