Queensland women urged to prioritise their health

Every day in Queensland, 12 women are diagnosed with a breast or gynaecological cancer and two die from the disease.

The new statistics come as Cancer Council Queensland today revealed the latest snapshot of women’s cancers across the state to mark the start of Women’s Health Week (September 4-8).

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan urged women to prioritise their health this week and put women’s cancers in the spotlight to raise awareness of the disease across the state.


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“We’re urging women to get to know their bodies and take part in relevant screening programs to help detect women’s cancers early,” Ms McMillan said.

“Around 4200 women are diagnosed with a women’s cancer each year in Queensland and 830 die from the disease.

“Our research shows that women living in Mackay are the most likely to be diagnosed with a women’s cancer (185 cases per 100,000 people), followed by Far North Queensland (176 cases per 100,000 people). South West Queensland recorded the lowest incidence rate in the state with 154 cases per 100,000 people.

“We need to do more to ensure women are taking part in eligible screening programs, and get to know their bodies to aid with early detection and help win this war on cancer.

“Of concern, only half of all eligible Queensland women participate in recommended breast and cervical screening, putting their health at risk and increasing the burden of cancer in our communities. Around 5 in 10 eligible Queensland women get regular pap smears, and only 6 in 10 take part in the BreastScreen Queensland program.

“It’s critical that all Queenslanders, no matter where they live, do what they can to help detect cancer early, to give themselves a greater chance of treating the disease successfully.”

Women’s cancers include cancers of the breast, cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva. Breast cancers make up 75 per cent of women’s cancer cases, followed by uterine cancer at 11 per cent, ovarian cancer at seven per cent and cervical cancer at five per cent.

“The good news is over the past 20 years mortality rates for breast cancer have decreased by 34 per cent, with mortality rates for cervical cancer decreasing by 47 per cent – with 86 per cent of women now surviving from a women’s cancer at least five years post diagnosis,” Ms McMillan said.

“However we still have a long way to go to ensure that more women – our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters or friends – are spared from this terrible disease.”

Ms McMillan said screening programs for breast and cervical cancer played a vital role in saving lives. “Queensland women aged 50-74 should have a mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Queensland,” Ms McMillan said.

“We recommend women be breast aware and get to know the normal look and feel of breasts and see a GP if they notice any changes.

“We also know that regular pap smears currently remain the way to detect cervical cancer. All eligible Queensland women be screened every two years.”

Cancer Council Queensland is committed to investing in ongoing research into women’s cancers, helping to improve the lives of women affected and provide adequate support right across the state. In 2016 more than 10,000 calls were made with Cancer Council’s 13 11 20, with 76 per cent of those calls from women.

If you need information or support, reach out today on 13 11 20 or visit cancerqld.org.au.

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