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More than 1.4 million women aged 50-69 had a screening mammogram through BreastScreen Australia in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).  

The report, BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2012-2013, shows that more than half (around 55%) of women targeted over this period-those aged 50-69 years-participated in BreastScreen Australia.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in, and the second-most common cause of cancer related death for, Australian women. BreastScreen Australia aims to reduce illness and deaths from breast cancer through early detection of unsuspected breast cancer, which enables early intervention.

Participation was around 55% in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014-consistent with that seen in recent years. However, some variation in participation rates was seen between particular groups of women.

'Participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was significantly lower than for other women in the target group-36% in 2012-2013,' said AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey.

Among remoteness areas, the highest participation rate was seen in Outer regional areas, at about 59%, compared with 53% in Major cities and 47% in Very remote areas.

There was little variation in participation across socioeconomic groups, with all groups ranging between around 52% and 56%.

In 2013, 12% of women screening for the first time and 4% of women attending subsequent screens were recalled for further investigation.

'More than half the cancers detected by BreastScreen Australia are small. This is good news, as small breast cancers tend to be associated with more treatment options and improved survival,' Mr Harvey said.

In 2012, 1,126 women aged 50-69 died from breast cancer, which is equivalent to 44 deaths per 100,000 women.

'The age-standardised breast cancer mortality rate fell from 68 deaths per 100,000 women in the target age range in 1991-when BreastScreen Australia began-to 42 per 100,000 women in 2012,' he said.

While this report uses the target age group of 50-69, from 1 July 2013 the target age group of BreastScreen Australia was expanded to women aged 50-74 years. Future reports will provide statistics on this expanded target group.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 1 October

Further information: Mr Justin Harvey, AIHW, tel. 02 6249 5057 mob. 0450 677 562

Full publication: BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2012-2013