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In 2005-2006, over a million and a half (1,622,481) Australian women participated in the BreastScreen Australia program, most of whom were in the target age range of 50-69 years , according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

According to the BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2005-2006, nearly 57 per cent in the target age group participated, which is an increase on 2004-2005.

'Participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 50-69 years is still lower than the national rate, at about 38% of the eligible population, but participation in this group has increased from 35% over the last five years,' said Dr Alison Budd of the Institute's Cancer and Screening Unit.

'One of the aims of the BreastScreen Australia Program is to maximise the number of small cancers detected, since early detection is associated with better treatment options and improved survival,' Dr Budd said.

Over the ten year period from 1996 to 2006, the proportion of invasive breast cancers detected that were small remained above 60%.

Since the BreastScreen Australia program began in 1991, new cases of breast cancer for women aged 50-69 years increased from 230 per 100,000 in 1991 to 279 in 2005, with a peak of 305 in 2001.

Conversely, deaths from breast cancer for women aged 50-69 years have decreased steadily from 66 per 100,000 women in 1991 to 47 per 100,000 in 2006.

BreastScreen Australia is a joint program of the Australian and state and territory governments that aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from breast cancer through regular screening to detect breast cancer early.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Further information: Dr Alison Budd, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1023, mob. 0418 271 395

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.

Availability: Check the AIHW Publications area for the availability of BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2005-2006