More than half of target group have mammogram: AIHW

breastscreen: woman having mammogram

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.

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,” says 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,” Harvey says.

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,” Harvey says.

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Eliz52

    The govt is worried about waste in medicine and harming healthy people with unnecessary procedures/surgeries, well this program should be on the top of the “review” pile.
    The evidence is not good, about 50% of screen detected breast cancers are over-diagnosed and any benefit of screening may be wiped away by those who die from cancers and heart attacks after treatments so the risks with screening may exceed any benefit.

    The focus has always been on coverage and the target, it should be on informed consent.
    We should get real and complete information, instead we get spin/misinformation/cherry picked research, celebrity endorsement, pressure, scary stories etc. In my opinion, if the evidence was sound, they wouldn’t have to resort to these sorts of tactics to get women through the door.

    I’d refer women to the summary prepared by the Nordic Cochrane Institute, an independent, not for profit medical research group – go to their website. Their report was first released more than a decade ago yet most women here have never seen it. I think anything that might put women off cancer screening and threaten the program and its target is kept out of sight or quickly dismissed, that’s unacceptable.

    Also, note that excess is a feature of our cervical screening program, we’ve ignored the evidence there too and, as a result, have huge and mostly avoidable excess colposcopy/biopsy and over-treatment rates. Over-screening and early screening provides no additional benefit to women but leads to high false positive rates. Our new program (2017) will again side with excess, start too early, test too often and for too long and it sounds like HPV+ women will be referred for colposcopy and biopsy when they should simply be offered a pap test.
    You only have to do basic research to find HPV testing is NOT recommended before age 30, so what will we do? We’ll test from age 25, this means about 40% of those aged 25 to 29 will be HPV+, transient and harmless infections that will clear in a year or so. By age 30 only about 5% of women will test HPV+, these are the only women who should be offered a pap test.
    I fear our young women will continue to suffer under our new program. We’ll also lock away HPV self-testing until women decline the invasive HPV test for 6 years, thankfully, though more women know they can simply order the test online or get it through their GP. (and pay for it)

    Our programs are a good example of what happens when you allow vested interests to have too much influence and when informed consent is ignored. Screening programs should be assessed with independent randomized controlled trials, if they pass, should be subject to regular and independent review, follow the evidence and put women and informed consent first. Screening targets are inappropriate, all screening carries risk, only one person can say the risk is worthwhile, individual women.
    Others do not have the right to make screening decisions for us or accept risk on our behalf.
    So if you want to save an absolute fortune have a close look at breast screening, get the NCI summary to all women and offer women something like the new Dutch cervical screening program, 5 HPV primary tests or HPV self-testing at ages 30,35,40,50 and 60 and a 5 yearly pap test will only be offered to the roughly 5% who are HPV+
    We’d save a fortune, save more lives and see excess biopsies and over-treatment rates plummet.
    Needless to say, I don’t accept a word coming from our programs and have declined to take part in either program, I value my health.
    I was disappointed to hear Sussan Ley say the Govt would spend $55M on another awareness campaign for breast screening to hopefully, boost screening numbers. The money would be better spent reviewing the program. Screening rates will continue to fall as more informed women choose NOT to screen. Celebrity endorsement and campaigns don’t work on informed women, our decision is based on the evidence. (as it should be…)

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