The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare believes more than one million Australian women in their 50s and 60s are putting their lives at risk by not having a free mammogram.
The BreastScreen Australia Report 2011/2012, which was released yesterday, found 55 per cent of women aged between 50 and 69 took advantage of the free breast cancer screening that was available to them every two years.
AIHW spokesman Justin Harvey said the mammograms were free and cost was, therefore, not an excuse.
“[Screenings] help detect breast cancer cells when they are smaller and this leads to better treatment outcomes for women,” Mr Harvey said.
The report identified breast cancer as the most common cancer affecting Australian women, with more than 7,500 women diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease during 2010.
Harvey said women should take advantage of the offer, especially during October because it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“This month is a good time to encourage women to participate in the programs and to reduce their risks of getting the cancer,” he said.
“Screening is a very good way to improve survival [rates] of breast cancer.
“Since the breast screening program began in 1991, breast cancer deaths have fallen from 68 to 44 per 100,000 women.”
BreastScreen WA claims it has detected more than 9,000 breast cancers since the program started in 1989. Australian women over the age of 40 are eligible for free screening.