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Cancer Council Urges Women to Think About their Health on International Women's Day

Wednesday 6 March, 2013

In recognition of International Women's Day this Friday, Cancer Council Victoria is urging women to stop being complacent when it comes to their health.

International Women's Day is an annual celebration of the economic, social and political achievements of women worldwide, and pays tribute to the ongoing fight for women's rights and equality.

Latest statistics from the Cancer Council revealed that in 2011 around 5,600 Victorian women were diagnosed with bowel, breast or cervical cancer, all of which are largely preventable through regular screening. In the same year, these cancers claimed 1,345 female lives in Victoria.

"Many women lead extremely busy lives, often juggling careers and families while still trying to meet their social engagements," said Kate Broun, Manager of the Cancer Screening Programs at Cancer Council Victoria.

"Unfortunately preventive health measures like screening often take a backseat, yet by doing so women are putting themselves at a much greater risk of developing cancer.

"We are extremely lucky in Australia to have nationally-funded screening programs for bowel, breast and cervical cancers, yet many women aren't making the most of this," she said. "When it comes to cervical screening, less than two thirds of Victorian women (59%) participate every two years as recommended, and around 90% of all women diagnosed with cervical cancer have either never had a Pap test or hadn't had them regularly in the ten years before diagnosis.

"It's a similar story for participation in breast and bowel screening, with the current average participation rate in Victoria just 55% and 41% (for women) respectively. The survival rates for these cancers are immensely improved through early detection via screening and treatment. In fact, up to 90% of bowel cancers can be cured if found early," Ms Broun said.

‘This International Women's Day we encourage all women to check if they're up-to-date with their screening, and if not to book an appointment with their health professional. Being proactive can make all the difference."