Women’s Health Loddon Mallee (WHLM), BreastScreen Victoria Bendigo (BSVB) and Bendigo Community Health Services (BCHS) have partnered to ensure the Karen community receives access to vital health information through their ‘Be Breast Aware’ educational session.
The workshop, delivered in May with support from Bendigo Community Health Services bilingual health educators, covered several breast health topics, including an overview of breast cancer in Victoria, risk factors for breast cancer, details about the BSV screening program, and the importance of being breast aware and undergoing screening for the early detection and prevention of breast cancer. Of the 14 workshop participants, 13 went on to engage in breast screening after the education session.
Participants reported a significant increase in their knowledge of breast health, including how to perform a breast self-check, an increased understanding of accessing breast screening and diagnostic services, and an improvement in their confidence to do so. Some participants also shared this vital health information with their family members, encouraging them to also make an appointment for breast screening.
Providing in-language health education sessions like this are crucial to improving health outcomes for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds who may otherwise miss out on vital information about their health and where to access support services.
As partners, we share an understanding of the importance of education and improving access to culturally safe and inclusive services. We recognise that particularly in rural and regional areas, the collaboration between our organisations enables collective impact, improving the health outcomes of our marginalised communities. There is substantial work required by partners to bring sessions such as Be Breast Aware, together. Due to pre-existing connections and rapport with community, BCHS project officers and bilingual educators have been integral to the success of the education session supporting partners throughout the process from planning and delivery through to evaluation, as well as leading the recruitment process. In addition to maintaining support and communication with participants post the session, BCHS also provided vital assistance in the lead up to the day ensuring all participants felt comfortable, knew what to expect and where to go.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and can affect anyone.
Signs and Symptoms:
It is important to note that people may not experiences any symptoms, and cancer is only found during a screening mammogram, a physical breast examination by a doctor, or breast self-examination.
Symptoms can include (but are not limited to):
- new lumps or thickening in the breast, especially if in only one breast
- nipple sores, change in shape of the nipple
- nipple discharge or turning in
- changes in the size or shape of the breast
- skin of the breast dimpling
- discomfort or swelling in the armpit
- rash or red swollen breasts
- ongoing pain that is not related to your menstrual cycle that remains after your period and occurs in only one breast.
Women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.
Women aged 40-49 and 75 and over are also eligible to receive free mammograms, however they do not receive an invitation to attend.
It is recommended that women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, aged between 40 and 49 or over 75 discuss options with their GP, or contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50.
Visit the BreastScreen Victoria website to book an appointment or for more information including in-language resources, on breast cancer and the BSV screening program.