HORSHAM Mayor David Grimble has called on Wimmera women to make the most of free breast screening services in the region after statistics showed participation rates fell short of the national target.
Breast Screen Victoria statistics for 2011-13 showed 60 to 64 per cent of Horsham women aged between 50 and 74 took advantage of the service at Wimmera Base Hospital in the past year.
The Breast Screen Australia target is 70 per cent.
“Breast Screen Victoria provides free mammography screening every two years, for the early detection of breast cancer at the Horsham clinic, targeting women 50 to 74 years of age,” Cr Grimble said.
“Research tells us the biggest risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman older than 50 years of age.
“With one in nine Victorian women diagnosed with the disease, the free mammogram screening program is the best way of finding cancer early before any symptoms are noticed and when treatment is likely to be most successful.”
The statistics showed while Horsham was below the national target, it was well above the state average participation rate of 54 per cent.
Participation in the Grampians region was slightly above the state average at 56 per cent.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness of the disease and money to support breast cancer research and services.
Women’s Health Grampians chief executive Patty Kinnersley said it was a good time to encourage women to care for their health.
“We know from various pieces of research that women are likely to manage a range of key areas in the household such as finances, education, sport and holiday schedules,” she said.
“We certainly know that women are more likely to look after the health needs of every-one else before themselves – but women need to remember to put themselves first too.
"Their health is just as important and it’s a vital message to send to the community.
“We are very good as a community at acknowledging and supporting women with breast cancer – this month is a great way to remind people to look after their breast health, not just in sickness but in health too.”
Cr Grimble said Wimmera women could call 13 20 50 or visit www.breastscreen.org.au to book a free breast screening.