ABOUT 10 women could be walking around Orange with breast cancer but don’t know it.
They are part of 2000 women in NSW who BreastScreen NSW said did not know they had breast cancer due to more than 400,000 women not having their recommended screening mammogram in the past two years despite 900 NSW women dying from the disease each year.
BreastScreen NSW is now launching an awareness campaign to find these women called the Find the NSW 2000, which urges women aged between 50 and 74 to book in a free mammogram every two years.
Orange-based McGrath breast care nurse Sue Kuter said the benefit of the screening was to find the cancers in their earliest stages, where the chances of successful treatment are highest.
“If it’s screened it’s much smaller and they can be cured more easily,” Mrs Kuter said.
“When women don’t get breast screening they leave themselves open to having a larger tumour, which requires more complex treatment and sometimes may not be able to be cured.
“By the time a lump is big enough to feel it’s a cancer it could have got into your lymph nodes and be more difficult to cure.”
Mrs Kuter works with women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and stays with them during the various stages of treatment through to hormone treatment and settling back into their lives.
She said many of the women she had met in that time who had breast cancers diagnosed by screening had smaller cancers.
The BreastScreen NSW campaign is being led by comedian and women’s health advocate Jean Kittson who said detecting breast cancer in its early stages improves the rate of survival to 98 per cent.
BreastScreen NSW spokeswoman Associate Professor Nirmala Pathmanathan said breast cancer was the second biggest cancer killer of Australian women, but only half of all eligible women in the BreastScreen NSW target age group are being screened regularly.
“We need to significantly increase the numbers of women screening and, in turn, reduce the numbers of women dying from this disease,” Dr Pathmanathan said.
To book a breast screen phone BreastScreen NSW on 13 20 50.