Not Enough Australian Women Are Breast Aware

A Newspoll survey of 1,000 women sought to gauge awareness of the campaign efforts of the late Jane McGrath, and it found almost total (97 per cent) awareness of her untimely death from breast cancer.

"Jane would be so proud to know that her experience...and the work of the McGrath Foundation has directly impacted so many women, particularly younger women," says Tracy Bevan, Jane's long-time friend and McGrath Foundation executive director.

"However, there is still work to do as while 80 per cent of women say they are breast aware, only one in three (31 per cent) are actually doing anything tangible with that increased awareness.

"I hope Jane's story can continue to empower women to do regular breast checks so they become more familiar with their own breasts, and are able to detect any changes early."

Five million Australian women felt motivated to take direct action to reduce their breast cancer risk as a result of Jane McGrath's experience, Newspoll estimated.

The survey took in 1,023 women - half aged 18 to 39 and half over 40 - from across the country.

It found that while 31 per cent of women performed a self breast exam every month, most women conducted the exams less frequently than recommended or not at all.

For many it was once every three months (16 per cent), or six months (16 per cent), or annually (7 per cent).

A significant 17 per cent of women said they never performed the exams key to finding the irregularities which can indicate potentially deadly cancers.

The poll also showed three in four women (75 per cent) said they had a personal connection to breast cancer - either they had a friend who was diagnosed (50 per cent) or it was a family member or a workmate.

Two per cent of the women said they had been diagnosed themselves.

The research, released at an event in Sydney's Royal Garden on Tuesday, also highlighted a gap in women seeking breast examinations from their doctors.

More than 30 per cent of the women had never had a breast examination performed by the GP.

"As GPs we have a particular opportunity to start a discussion around breast health and breast cancer with our patients, particularly young women," says GP and long-time friend of Jane McGrath, Dr Lucy France.

"This is especially important given that the research shows one in six women are not doing any self-breast examinations."

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Australia with more than 11,000 new cases expected each year, and around 2,600 deaths.
(AAP Image/Comstock)

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