Half the women aged between 50 and 69 who live in the Werribee, Tarneit and Altona electorates are not taking part in regular breast cancer screening, new data reveals.

BreastScreen Victoria last week released an analysis of breast screening rates across the state revealing that 50 per cent of women in these three electorates are failing to take part in the service’s free breast cancer screening program. Across Victoria, the participation rate for women aged 50-69 is 54 per cent.

BreastScreen Victoria chief executive Vicki Pridmore said screening rates were too low across the state. She said the organisation was aiming for a participation rate of 70 per cent.

Cultural diversity and lifestyle factors could be contributing to the lower screening rates in the Werribee, Tarneit and Altona electorates, Ms Pridmore said.

Appointment availability could also be impacting on some women’s ability to access regular screening.

Ms Pridmore said the data highlighted the need to raise awareness of the importance of regular breast screening for early detection. Finding breast cancer early, before symptoms were even noticed, gave the greatest chance of successful treatment.

“BreastScreen Victoria encourages women particularly aged 50-74 to take advantage of our free breast screening service, and have a breast screen every two years,” she said. “Research suggests that women in this age range are at most benefit from the program, as 75 per cent of women diagnosed are over 50.”

Ms Pridmore encouraged women who had not had a breast screen in the past two years to make an appointment soon.

There are four BreastScreen Victoria clinics in the western suburbs: at St Albans; 27 Princes Highway, Werribee; Sunshine Hospital; and 77 Paisley Street, Footscray. For more information or to book an appointment, visit www.breastscreen.org.au