Only 56 percent of eligible women in Queensland have taken advantage of the free breast screen service provided across the state.
Executive Director of Preventive Health, Kaye Pulsford said the latest available data shows, of the 646,835 women aged 50 to 74 years in Queensland, 365,276 had participated in the free BreastScreen Queensland program in 2015-16.
“I congratulate those women who are having regular breast screens,” she said.
“However, it is very concerning that almost half of eligible women in Queensland have not had a breast screen.
“Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, and the second highest cause of cancer-related deaths in Queensland women.
“Regular breast screens are crucial to detect early signs, before they are seen or even felt, and can dramatically reduce the chance of dying from the disease.
“I’m urging Queensland women over 50 who have not had a screen in the last two years, to pick up the phone or jump online and make a potentially life-saving appointment.”
With three breast cancer diagnoses in her family, 51-year-old Cairns resident Samantha wasted no time booking in for a breast screen as soon as she became eligible.
“My maternal grandmother died of breast cancer when she was only 52 so I always intended to have a breast screen when I was eligible,” she said.
“I received an invitation soon after my 50th birthday and left it on the bench to remind myself to make an appointment.
“A couple of weeks later my cousin advised me her sister and mum had both been for a breast screen and were found to have aggressive lumps requiring surgery and radiation.
“I made my appointment for later that week.”
Samantha said the whole process was fast and smooth.
“I was in and out in less than half an hour and it does not feel at all threatening,” she said.
“I didn’t find the process painful, only a bit uncomfortable, but the breast screen lasted less than 10 seconds.
“I was one of the lucky ones that came back all clear.”
Samantha was shocked to hear the number of women not having their breast screens every two years.
“I know that not every family has been impacted by breast cancer but I would have thought with so much awareness out there, more women would be actively taking steps to ensure they are not at risk – especially because it is a free service.
Samantha urges all women not to be complacent and to book a breast screen.
“There are so many unforeseens in life and so many diseases we cannot test for or cure – breast cancer is not one of them.
“We shouldn’t let our fears and silliness stop us from taking up the breast screen opportunity.”
“Having a breast screen takes less time than doing the family grocery shopping – it takes thirty minutes out of a single day, and only once every two years.
Samantha said having a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach to breast screens is the best option.
“If the idea of a breast screen does not reassure you, think about the reassurance it might give to your partner and family,” she said.
“My own cousin and aunt found out entirely randomly that they had breast cancer. If it wasn’t for their breast screens, they could both be dead by now.”
Its recommended women aged 50 to 74 receive a breast screen every two years.