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Cancer Council NSW is encouraging First Nation Australians to be brave and get screened

[by Claudia Bernardi]


Image: supplied

This National Reconciliation Week, Australian's are being encouraged to be brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation. Cancer Council NSW is encouraging First Nation Australian's to be brave and get screened to improve cancer screening rates.  


"We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a higher burden of cancer than non-Indigenous Australians,” says Caitlin Vasica, Screening Project Lead at Cancer Council NSW, “Screening rates are lower in First Nation communities due to barriers such as , shame, fear and embarrassment about screening and cancer.” 


In 2017-18, the estimated participation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 50-74 in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) was only 27.3% as opposed to the 42.6% of non-Indigenous Australian's. Similarly, breast cancer screening rates showed the estimated participation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females aged 50-74 years was 37.6% in 2017-18 compared with 54% of non-Indigenous women.  
Screening is one of the most effective ways of detecting cancer early, “If we detect precancerous signs we can stop the cancer developing in the first place,” Ms Vasica explains, “Detecting cancer when it is small means that there are better treatment options and survival prospects.” There are three National Screening Programs available in Australia to detect breast, bowel and cervical cancers.  


“We know that 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated if detected early,” Ms Vasica says. Cancer Council NSW is partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and peak bodies across the State to improve awareness and access to screening.  


“If you've got a bowel screening kit sitting in the drawer, received your invitation to have a mammogram, or know it's time to visit your clinic for your cervical screening, don't delay. Make your appointments, take the tests because they could save your life. 


“There is no shame in looking after your health and doing the tests. If you don't fit into the screening age groups, support your family and each other to participate in these health checks.” Ms Vasica concludes.  


If you, or anyone you know has any questions or concerns about cancer you can call Cancer Council's free Information and Support number on 13 11 20 or visit 


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