Overcoming language barriers for breast cancer screening in Western Sydney

Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day! A day where we celebrate the social (health), economic, cultural and political achievements of women as we #PressforProgress.


In celebration and recognition of cultural diversity in western Sydney, the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute (BCI) through its BreastScreen NSW (Sydney West) program commenced a special project this year to encourage culturally and linguistically diverse women to return to routine mammography screening for the early detection of breast cancer.


We know that finding breast cancer in its early stages can save lives.


However, it is this demographic who typically have lower rates of participation in the BreastScreen NSW program. By seeking to speak to women in their language, it is hoped they can be re-engaged and turn this statistic around.


Screening mammograms are the most effective way of detecting breast cancer early. With early detection you have more treatment options available and a greater chance of survival from this disease.


The project, in partnership with the Health Care Interpreter Service, will run in 2018 thanks to the funding awarded by the Cancer Institute NSW.


Qualified interpreters will be contacting women who have had a mammogram in the past but have not responded to follow up appointment reminders. Using the interpreter service ensures we can talk to women in their native tongue to make them aware of the importance of having a mammogram every two years.


The project will reach out to 3000 lapsed women from Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Italian and Maltese speaking populations to book for a screening mammogram. The project will run complimentary to the interpreter services already provided to women attending mammogram appointments at screening clinics across western Sydney.


Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women, with more than 17,000 diagnosed every year. That equates to 48 Australian women receiving a breast cancer diagnosis every day!


1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and 9 in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.


BreastScreen NSW provides FREE screening mammograms for women aged 50-74 years.


The appointment for screening takes no more than 15 minutes, it’s free and no doctor’s referral is required.


Women are urged to make an appointment by phoning 13 20 50 or 13 14 50 if an interpreter is required (group bookings welcome).