We all know mammograms are important. In fact, for Queensland women aged 50-74 a free mammogram with BreastScreen Queensland remains the best possible way of detecting breast cancer early. But what if mammograms weren’t enough to give yourself the best chance of detecting abnormalities early? New research suggests this may be the case, writes Katie Clift of Cancer Council Queensland.

The Cancer Council, along with QUT and BreastScreen Queensland, have just issued new research showing hundreds of Queensland women develop breast cancers between their scheduled screenings each year – and the data shows those who are diagnosed between mammograms experience poorer survival.

In fact, an analysis of historical data shows that women diagnosed with breast cancer in between routine mammograms were 59 per cent more likely to die from their cancer than those with a screen-detected cancer.

The research has prompted us to issue an alert to all Queensland women: be breast aware between your mammograms. If you notice any changes, don’t wait for the next screening.

It’s absolutely critical that Queensland women are breast aware and familiarise themselves with the normal look and feel of their breasts. If you notice any unusual changes, see your doctor immediately.

Research shows around 80 per cent of all interval-detected breast tumours are aggressive and fast-growing, which leads to poorer survival rates, so it’s important to detect them as early as possible.

New figures released from the AIHW also show that just over 57 per cent of eligible Queensland women participate in recommended screening through BreastScreen Queensland (that figure doesn’t include the number of women who participate in private screenings).

While our participation rates are 3.4 per cent higher than the national average, there is still vast improvement to be made.

The message is clear – if you’re eligible, make it a priority to participate in free mammograms every two years through BreastScreen Queensland. Women at a high risk or with a family history should also discuss their screening options with a GP.

And stay breast aware between your scheduled screenings. Make your breast health a priority – it might just save your life.

Find out more information about being breast aware, and the risks of breast cancer click here to visit the Cancer Council Queensland website.