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The BreastScreen Australia program began in 1991 as the National program for the early detection of breast cancer and was an initiative of the Commonwealth and the states and territories. The program was established out of recognition for the need to implement a population-based mammographic screening program. Screening mammography is carried out in an organised and systematic manner to detect unsuspected cancer at an early stage so that early treatment can reduce illness and death from breast cancer.
The program is comprised of two components: screening and assessment services and coordination units. The screening and assessment service is structured to include a screening unit where the initial screening mammogram is performed and an assessment unit where further diagnostic procedures take place. The coordination units are based in each state and territory and are responsible for the planning and coordination of the program in their respective state or territory.
The BreastScreen Australia program is primarily aimed at non-symptomatic women aged 50 to 69 years although women outside of this age cohort can also access the program's services. The program has services available throughout the Australian metropolitan area and mobile screening units for rural and remote towns.
The program also produces a range of brochures and flyers for consumers. These resources are produced in several different languages with some catering specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. In some states and territories, a women's Aboriginal Health Worker is also employed to discuss breast screening with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Abstract adapted from BreastScreen Australia
BreastScreen Australia program
Ph: 13 20 50 (Australia wide)
This report is the latest annual monitoring report for BreastScreen Australia on breast cancer in Australia. It provides data from the 2010-2011 period of participation in BreastScreen Australia along with the latest available data on breast cancer incidence and mortality, including data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The report features statistics referring to women in the age range of 50 to 69 years old who have been diagnosed with or died from breast cancer. The new data indicates that breast cancer mortality has decreased from 68 to 43 per 100,000 women between 1991 (when BreastScreen Australia began) and 2010. This has been attributed to the early detection of cancers through BreastScreen Australia, along with advances in management and treatment. The report results show that breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths for Australian women after lung cancer. It also calls attention to the difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous women undertaking breastscreen mammograms, showing only 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women having screening mammograms in 2010-2011, compared with 54% of non-Indigenous women.
Abstract adapted from BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2010-2011