Support for breast screen initiative

LOCAL breast cancer survivor Jan Byrne has thrown her support behind an initiative by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg to increase early detection and treatment for Southern Downs women.

Mrs Byrne, who has twice had the cancer, said the program which would see appointments for breast screening automatically booked for women 50 - 79 was a good idea.

"Absolutely - anything which means more women get checked is a good idea," she said.

"It is imperative women go and have their screening.

"If it can get more women checked out, I'm all for it."

Mr Springborg is looking to implement a state-wide screening initiative which would channel Finland's, the first country to implement a nationwide mammography screening program.

"Certainly I am not looking at making anything compulsory or set in stone," Mr Springborg said.

"However, I would like to explore a pilot program for mammograms, similar to the scheme that is operational in Finland."

Mr Springborg said the program would see bookings for patients pre-arranged.

"I was able to see the program first hand on a recent trip to Finland and the efficient way that they set appointments," he said.

"If, for example, a breast screen van was coming to Warwick, rather than have a notice sent out, an actual appointment time that is pre-arranged and locked in is sent to the patient.

"It creates a call to action and prompts the patient to either attend the appointment or re-schedule."

Mr Springborg said the success rate in Finland had been far higher than Queensland, even though the Sunshine State already performed well.

"There is a 95% success rate in Finland on screening, compared to 57% in Queensland," Mr Springborg said.

"Even though Queensland is one of the best performing states, it is obvious that we can do so much better."

Mr Springborg said he simply wanted to ensure women had their checks.

"That is my aim - to ensure that women have access to screening," he said.

"And that we promote a system where women have their checks to decrease the rates of breast cancer."

Although she thought it was a good idea, Mrs Byrne said she had doubts over how such a program would be carried out.

"I'd like to know how they're going to book an appointment for every woman in the 50-79-year-old age group," she said.

"If they're going to have a database, it's going to be a huge one.

"I think it's a great idea, I just don't know how they are going to ensure all women have screenings booked."

Mrs Byrne said a big issue currently was people who believed cancer just would not happen to them.

"There are a lot of people who say 'I'll be right'," she said.

"By the time they actually do go and get themselves checked, it's too late.

"I think a screening program could really help solve that issue, by booking the screening in for them."

Breast facts

 In 2010, breast cancer was the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Australian women, 15.3% of all cancer deaths in women.

 There were 2864 deaths from breast cancer in 2010 (2840 women and 24 men).

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