BreastScreen access lacking after cancer

WOMEN with a history of breast cancer can be appropriately screened by BreastScreen Australia, researchers say, but a nationally consistent policy allowing them access is lacking.

Researchers showed mammographic screening by BreastScreen WA had a higher cancer detection rate, and a lower recall rate, in women with personal history of breast cancer (PHBC) than those without.

“It would seem reasonable to allow [these women] to access mammography screening through BreastScreen once they have passed five years [after diagnosis],” lead author Associate Professor Nehmat Houssami, a breast physician at the University of Sydney, said.

An evaluation of BreastScreen Australia in 2009 recommended these women should be eligible to enter the program, but noted jurisdictions were applying different selection criteria.

Rates of women with PHBC in BreastScreen range from 1.6% of all women screened in WA, to 0.2% in Victoria.