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Compared with non-Indigenous women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 14% less likely to survive 5 years after a diagnosis of breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Indigenous women.
Today, Cancer Australia released a new handbook which provides evidence-based information for Indigenous health workers to start the conversation with Indigenous women and promote increased breast cancer awareness, prevention activities, screening, early detection and quality of life for women after diagnosis.
Cancer Australia CEO, Professor Helen Zorbas explained, “It is hoped that this approach will shift the perception of cancer as a fatal disease. In the case of breast cancer, you can find it early and survive.
“Despite being less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than non-Indigenous women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more likely to die from the disease.
“Factors contributing to this disparity include: limited awareness of symptoms, lower breast cancer screening participation, lower treatment completion rates and the need for culturally appropriate information and support.”
Indigenous women are substantially less likely than non-Indigenous women to participate in the breast cancer screening programme. “Only 36% of Indigenous women participate compared with 55% of non-Indigenous women, and they may not visit a doctor when they notice changes in their breasts. As a result, breast cancer may be more advanced at diagnosis” Professor Zorbas said.
Cancer Australia encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to know their body, note the breast changes to look out for, report any unusual changes to their health professional and for women over 50 to participate in screening every two years.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and liaison officers are best placed to promote these messages due to their involvement in the healthcare of Indigenous communities and their role throughout a woman’s breast cancer journey.
Breast Cancer: a handbook for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers is available online, and pre-orders are currently being accepted for printed copies on the Cancer Australia website.
Other Cancer Australia Initiatives
- Cancer Australia’s ‘My breast cancer journey: a guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families’ was released in November 2014 and outlines the clinical management of the early breast cancer journey to support Indigenous women with breast cancer and their families. The guide can be downloaded from the Cancer Australia Website.
- Cancer Australia will be holding a series of ‘Women’s Business’ Workshops for Indigenous women in 2016.
For all media enquiries, please contact: Amy Cook at Cancer Australia on (02) 9357 9401, 0438 209 833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org