Women must beware to be breast aware between screenings

Hundreds of Queensland women are developing breast cancers between screening each year, prompting a warning from Cancer Council for women to be breast aware between mammograms.

The call follows the publication of new data revealing women diagnosed with breast cancer between mammograms experience poorer survival.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift urged all women to be breast aware in order to detect any changes that might occur between scheduled screenings.

“Analysis of historical data shows that women diagnosed with breast cancer in between routine mammograms were 59 per cent more likely to die from their cancer than those with a screen-detected breast cancer,” Ms Clift said.

“This finding was consistent across the state, for regional and urban areas.

“It’s absolutely critical that Queensland women are breast aware and familiarise themselves with the normal look and feel of their breasts,” Ms Clift said.

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

“Participating in regular mammograms is imperative, but Queensland women need to prioritise their health and get familiar with their breasts in-between screenings too.

“If you notice any changes, don’t wait for the next mammogram – being breast aware could save your life.”

Interval-detected breast cancers include fast-growing tumours that emerge and grow rapidly between two scheduled screenings, and others that aren’t detected by mammography.

“Around 80 per cent of all interval tumours are aggressive and fast-growing, a factor that accounts for poorer survival rates,” Ms Clift said.

“We recommend that women continue to participate in routine screening but carefully monitor their breast health between screenings.

“BreastScreen Queensland remains the most effective way to detect breast cancer early on a population-wide scale.

“About 6 in every 1000 women who are screened have a cancer detected, and fewer than one in 1000 will have an interval tumour detected.

“Importantly, BreastScreen Queensland services are equally effective across the State, with mobile screening that has helped to overcome the barriers of distance in rural areas.”

The joint CCQ, QUT, BreastScreen Queensland study found 2843 Queensland women aged 40-89 were diagnosed with an interval-detected breast cancer from 1997-2007, compared to 6898 diagnosed with a screen-detected cancer.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said Queensland had the highest participation in BreastScreen services in Australia.

“This shows that Queensland women are being proactive in their breast health and utilising the services available to them through BreastScreen Queensland,” he said.

“With more than 200 locations over Queensland, including mobile services for women in rural or remote areas, Queensland women have the ability to detect breast cancer and improve treatment outcomes wherever they live.”

Mr Dick referred to the ‘Participation in BreastScreen Australia 2013/2014’ report, to be released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report found Queensland participation rates at 3.4 per cent above the national average – 57.6 per cent compared to 54.2 per cent.

Cancer Council Queensland recommends women aged 50-74 have a mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Queensland. Women at a high risk or with a family history should discuss their screening options with a GP.

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.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or www.cancerqld.org.au.

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

*Does geographic location impact the survival differential between screen and interval-detected breast cancers? Ching-Fu Hsieh et al. 2015.
**David Jones has supported breast cancer research for over 20 years. The establishment of the David Jones Rose Clinics in CBD stores assists 35,000 women each year, providing free breast screening for women over 40 in a welcoming and comfortable environment.

About the Rose Clinics

As an extension of the company’s commitment to women’s health David Jones has developed a breast screening program with government based organisation BreastScreen, through the establishment of the Rose Clinics in our CBD stores. Boasting state of the art digital mammography technology, the Rose Clinics offer free breast screening for women over 40 in a welcoming and comfortable environment with an experienced team from BreastScreen. 35,000 women are screened in David Jones Rose Clinics each year.