BREAST SCREENING

Minister’s Statement

I rise to inform the house of what the Andrews Labor government is doing to ensure Victorian women with breast cancer can access diagnosis and treatment quicker. Last month I was pleased to attend the North Western BreastScreen clinic to announce $1.8 million for six new 3D breast screen machines. These 3D machines will be based at the North Western BreastScreen Victoria reading and assessment service at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and at services in Ballarat, Bendigo and Traralgon. There will also be two machines at Monash Health in East Bentleigh. These machines can take a 3D image instead of a standard 2D image, delivering a faster diagnosis. It means eligible women can get the all clear quicker or start treatment sooner if breast cancer is detected.

This investment ensures statewide access for Victorian women to this 3D technology. Previously women would have had to travel long distances if they received a call-back for more thorough testing. Data released today by BreastScreen Victoria indicates that 46 per cent of women aged 50 to 74 are not participating in regular screening. The data suggests that more than 1500 Victorian women could have breast cancer but just do not know it, because they are not participating in regular screening. Finding breast cancer early, before any symptoms are noticed, gives women the best chance of survival. Thanks to earlier detection and better treatments, more Victorian women are surviving breast cancer, with the five-year survival rate now at 91 per cent, compared to 73 per cent in 1986.

Breast cancer is the second most common new cancer in Victoria. In 2017, 4524 Victorian women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 779 died from the disease. So I encourage all Victorian women, particularly those aged over 50 who are eligible for this free screening, to get a breast screen done every two years. It is free, it takes just 10 minutes and it could save their life or the life of someone that they love.