Cancer screening programs reach target groups

Australia's breast cancer and cervical screening programs are continuing to reach their target groups, according to a web update released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'Today's web update contains a fast-tracked release of the latest national participation data for Australia's breast cancer and cervical screening programs for 2010 and 2011,' said AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey.

BreastScreen Australia aims to reduce illness and death resulting from breast cancer by screening to detect cases of unsuspected breast cancer in women, enabling intervention at an early stage. Finding breast cancer early often means that the cancer is small, which is associated with increased treatment options and improved survival.

'Breast cancer has a big impact on our community and was estimated to be the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women in 2012 and was the second most common cause of cancer-related death in 2010,' Mr Harvey said.

Just over half (55%) of targeted women in Australia had a screening mammogram through BreastScreen Australia in 2010 or 2011, equating to almost 1.4 million women. Participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women continues to be lower at 36.2%.

'In 2010 and 2011, participation rates for mammograms were highest in Outer regional areas at 59%, but BreastScreen Australia also reached 46% of women in Very remote areas,' Mr Harvey said.

The web update also includes the latest participation data for the National Cervical Screening Program, which aims to reduce illness and death resulting from cervical cancer in Australia.

'Fifty-seven per cent of Australian women in the target age group had at least one Pap test in 2010 or 2011,' Mr Harvey said.

'This led to the early detection of around 32,000 serious abnormalities, which may have otherwise led to cervical cancer.'

Participation in cervical screening was similar across all remoteness areas, although slightly higher in Major cities and in Inner regional areas than in other areas.

'Of the factors analysed, socioeconomic status appeared to affect cervical screening participation the most, with women living in areas of higher socioeconomic status more likely to screen.'

The AIHW reports on three national cancer screening programs, BreastScreen Australia, the National Cervical Screening Program, and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

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, 12 March 2013

Further information: Justin Harvey, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5057, mob. 0407 915 851