Volume 4 Supplement 1

Symposium Mammographicum 2002

Open Access

A review of screen detected breast cancers among aboriginal women in Western Australia

  • EJ Wylie1,
  • J Tresham1 and
  • J Councillor1
Breast Cancer Research20024(Suppl 1):13


Published: 1 July 2002

The cancer mortality of Australian indigenous people is higher than non-indigenous people, but at the same time the reported incidence of cancer is broadly similar for both groups. The objective of the study was to determine whether the screening cancer detection rate is similar for indigenous and nonindigenous women.


BreastScreen Western Australia (BSWA) is a free mammographic screening service targeting women 50–69 years of age. BSWA records from January 1990 to December 2000 were reviewed. Women are routinely asked to indicate whether they are of aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin (ATSI).


A total of 450,425 women were screened by BSWA from January 1990 to December 2000. 2,314 cancers were detected with a total cancer detection rate of 5.1 cancers per 1,000 women screened. 4,916 women of ATSI origin were screened during this interval. 31 breast cancers were diagnosed, with a total cancer detection rate of 6.3 cancers per 1,000 women screened.


Cultural, geographic and economic barriers exist that limit indigenous women's access to and the acceptability of many western health initiatives, including screening mammography. BSWA has a special obligation to make information on and access to services as culturally acceptable as possible to this group of clients.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Health, BreastScreen Western Australia


© BioMed Central 2002