Breast screening saves lives, new report shows

More Queenslanders are participating in breast cancer screening than the national average, and mortality rates are dropping according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today.

The BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2011-2012 showed Queensland had the fourth-highest uptake rate of breast screening in the country, with 57 per cent of eligible women getting a mammogram in 2011/12, compared to around 54 per cent nationally.

The report also showed a decline in breast cancer mortality across Australia, attributed in part to the early detection of breast cancer through participation in BreastScreen programs nationally.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the trends were promising.

“We’ve seen a significant drop in breast cancer mortality from 48 deaths per 100,000 women in 2007 to 44 deaths per 100,000 women in 2011,” Ms Clift said.

“This report reinforces the fact that breast cancer screening works – and we need more eligible women to take up their free mammograms every year through BreastScreen Queensland.

“A Cancer Council Queensland study*, released earlier this year, showed women screened by BreastScreen Queensland have better survival than those not screened, even after adjusting for tumour stage.

“The findings showed the survival benefits of mammographic screening remained consistent across Queensland, regardless of where women lived.

“This is a testament to the success of the BreastScreen Queensland mobile vans that visit regional areas every year, a crucial initiative funded by the State Government.

“Women whose breast cancer is diagnosed through a breast screening program tend to have a better prognosis because they’re detected at an earlier, less-advanced stage.”

Cancer Council Queensland recommends women aged 50-74 have a mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Queensland.

“Queensland women should be breast aware and familiarise themselves with the normal look and feel of their breasts,” Ms Clift said.

“All women should also see a doctor immediately if they notice any unusual breast changes.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Queensland women – around 2900 new cases are diagnosed each year, and about 500 women die from the disease.

Since BreastScreen Australia began in 1991, mortality has decreased from 68 deaths per 100,000 women to 44 deaths per 100,000 women in 2011.

Cancer Council Queensland is calling on all Queenslanders to unite in pink this month to support the one in six Queensland women who will be diagnosed with women’s cancer in their lifetime.

Queenslanders can buy pink, register to host a Girls’ Night In or Pink Ribbon Fundraiser, donate or volunteer on Pink Ribbon Day – Monday October 27. More information is available via or 1300 65 65 85.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*Bayesian spatial analysis for the evaluation of breast cancer detection methods, Ching-Fu Hsieh et al. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Statistics, 2014.