Warnings as breast screen rates fall

AUSTRALIAN women are being warned against complacency when it comes to breast cancer amid a fall in screening rates.

New figures released today reveal the number of women aged 50 to 69 attending their free mammogram every two years has been in decline since the last national campaign in 2001/02, when the screening rate hit 57.6 per cent.

By 2013/14, it had fallen to 53.7 per cent, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show.

Screening rates for women aged 40 and over have also fallen dramatically since hitting 37.8 per cent in 2001/02, but made a slight recovery in 2013/14.

Health Minister Sussan Ley says the figures are concerning, and urged all women to ensure they were up to date with their screens.

Breast cancer was the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among Australian women, but 90 per cent of cases could be treated successfully if detected early, she said.