Funding boost for multicultural cancer care as breast cancer screening rates reach all-time high


More than $500,000 has been awarded to help boost cancer screening rates among multicultural communities, as a record number of women in NSW accessed free breast screening.

More than 37,000 women had mammograms at BreastScreen NSW clinics throughout the month of May – the highest number of women ever screened for breast cancer in a single month in BreastScreen’s history.

Meanwhile, more than 371,000 women had a mammogram during the 2022-23 financial year – the highest number of women ever screened in a single year since BreastScreen NSW began operating in 1991.

Mammogram bookings were also at an all-time high during May, with more than 42,000 eligible women making an appointment at one of BreastScreen NSW’s more than 250 clinics and mobiles sites in NSW.

It is a significant rebound from the record low screening rates seen in 2020 and 2021, as the health system responded to the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crucially, peak numbers of Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women were also screened for breast cancer throughout May.

Encouraging Indigenous and CALD women to participate in cancer screening is a key priority, as screening rates for breast, bowel and cervical cancer are lower in these at-risk communities.

To further improve cancer screening and outcomes in CALD communities, the Cancer Institute NSW has today awarded more than $500,000 to deliver 20 cancer control programs in areas such as Liverpool, Far West NSW, the Illawarra and Newcastle.

Acting Premier Prue Car said:

“Around 1 in 7 women will develop breast cancer but we know early detection saves lives.”

“We continued to see high numbers of women being screened throughout June and I encourage all eligible women to keep the momentum going and not wait until it’s too late.”

“If you’re over 50 and haven’t had a mammogram since June 2021 – don’t wait for a letter in the mail.”

“Pick up the phone or go online to book in your breast screen – it could save your life.”

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said:

“We know mammograms are the most effective way to detect breast cancer early.”

“So it’s really encouraging to see so many women return to BreastScreen NSW after the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Record numbers of women from metro, regional and remote NSW had a breast screen in May, which is an increase of nearly 15% compared with the same period in 2019.

“NSW has one of the highest survival rates for most cancers, and that’s due in part to programs like BreastScreen.”

Minister for Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis said:

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and, as a survivor, I welcome the government’s funding commitment for multicultural communities.”

“A mammogram can detect cancer when it’s smaller than a grain of rice – well before you would notice or feel any change in your breasts.”

“Detecting cancer early means treatment can be started early – when it’s going to be the most effective.”

Member for Liverpool Charishma Kaliyanda said:

“We know our multicultural communities, such as those in Liverpool, often face significant barriers in accessing cancer screening and care.”

“NSW is a global leader in cancer care but people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are often at higher risk of cancer and are less likely to use cancer screening services due to barriers in accessing and engaging in services.”

“I want all women to know breast cancer screening is safe, discreet and free for women aged between 50 and 74.”

Chief Cancer Officer for NSW and CEO of Cancer Institute NSW Professor Tracey O’Brien said:

“Multicultural communities face significant barriers accessing cancer screening services and care, often due to language barriers, poor health literacy, trauma, and cultural stigma and beliefs.”

“Cancer remains the leading cause of death in Australia and by working together with CALD communities, we hope to truly understand and break down barriers to care, to ensure all people have equitable cancer outcomes.”

“With more than 275 languages spoken in NSW, we recognise that a one size fits all approach won’t work.”

“These grants will support local community groups and health services to roll out targeted initiatives that will help arm people with multilingual information to reduce their cancer risk, in a way that is aligned with their cultural beliefs.”

Chair of the Board of Settlement Council of Australia and CEO of Community Migrant Resource Centre, Melissa Monteiro said:

“As one of the 20 grant recipients, this funding will go a long way towards creating awareness and improving cancer outcomes for CALD communities.”

“While cultural diversity enriches our community, it can present challenges in the delivery of cancer-related healthcare.”

“We are thrilled to be able to use this grant to deliver a series of interactive education sessions in Mandarin and Hindi, that will focus on the important role healthy living and screening plays in preventing bowel cancer.”

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (LHD) recorded the highest number of breast screens throughout May, followed by Hunter New England LHD, Northern Sydney LHD and Central Coast LHD.

In NSW, around 30% of people were born overseas, with 1 in 4 people speaking a language other than English at home – higher than any other state or territory.

Visit Cancer Institute NSW more information on breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening.

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