Hornsby & Ku-ring-gai women warned - don’t ig­nore your mam­mo­grams

It's Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month and the head of Breast­Screen NSW has a warn­ing for lo­cal women…

Monthly Chronicle - - Health & Well-being -

New data shows a con­cern­ing number of women in Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai ar­eas may not be keep­ing up with their rec­om­mended mam­mo­grams. Al­most 50,000 women in the North­ern Syd­ney Lo­cal Health Dis­trict (NSLHD) aged be­tween 50 and 74 have skipped, or sim­ply not taken ad­van­tage of the free scans of­fered by Breast­Screen NSW.

Cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions are for women to un­dergo a mam­mo­gram ev­ery two years from the age of 50.

Mered­ith Kay, di­rec­tor of Breast­Screen NSW North­ern Syd­ney and Cen­tral Coast said reg­u­lar mam­mo­grams are in­te­gral in de­tect­ing early stages of breast can­cer, which boosts the like­li­hood of suc­cess­ful treat­ment.

“The smaller the can­cer when you’re di­ag­nosed, the more op­tions you have for treat­ment,” she said.

“If your can­cer is picked up by a screen­ing mam­mo­gram, you’re less likely to need a mas­tec­tomy.”

Ms Kay said she was hope­ful the continued ef­forts of en­cour­ag­ing breast can­cer aware­ness would avoid com­pla­cency among women of all ages.

“Al­though th­ese fig­ures don’t in­clude the por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion us­ing other screen­ing ser­vices, what we know is some women may be walk­ing around with breast can­cer and not know it be­cause they haven’t had their reg­u­lar mam­mo­gram,” she said.

9 out of 10 women who de­velop breast can­cer don’t have a fam­ily his­tory

“It’s im­por­tant for us to keep the breast screen­ing conversation go­ing within our com­mu­ni­ties so that women can be re­minded to take care of their health and hope­fully this will cre­ate an on­go­ing cul­ture of sup­port.”

A ma­jor­ity of breast can­cer cases are not ge­net­i­cally linked, with fig­ures show­ing 9 out of 10 women who de­velop breast can­cer don’t have a fam­ily his­tory.

But that’s not the only star­tling statis­tic. “One in ev­ery eight women in NSW will de­velop breast can­cer in their lifetime, so it’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to make sure women over 50 know why they should have a reg­u­lar mam­mo­gram,” Ms Kay said.

Ap­point­ments take ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes and are free for women over 40 when ar­ranged through Breast­Screen NSW.

Mam­mo­grams through Breast­Screen can be con­ducted at Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospi­tal in Hornsby or at Fox Val­ley Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Wahroonga. Call 13 20 50 to make an ap­point­ment or search for more in­for­ma­tion by vis­it­ing breast­screen.nsw.gov.au

Mered­ith Kay

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