THE ACON Talk Touch Test breast screening campaign will receive much-needed funding from the Cancer Institute NSW, the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Health today announced.
During her opening address at the third annual Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Health Conference in Sydney, Leslie Williams MP unveiled ACON as the recipient of $200,000 from the Cancer Institute NSW.
The new funding will build on ACON’s existing work around breast and chest health in LGBTI communities. In what is believed to be a national first, ACON has led a two-year effort to increase participation in breast and chest screening programs by people in LGBTI communities.
“We have been working with our communities over the past 18 months on this health issue and we know that there is a real willingness to engage, increase awareness of, and participation in, breast and chest health behaviours and services,” ACON Deputy CEO Karen Price said.
“Across Australia, 43 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day. This funding is ground-breaking and ACON is grateful that the Cancer Institute NSW has taken this step to broaden the diversity of its efforts to reduce the impact of breast cancer in NSW.
“While breast cancer most commonly affects people assigned female at birth who are over 50 years of age, anyone with breast tissue can get breast cancer.”
Price said LGBTI people tend to have lower screening rates for cancer.
“With this funding, we will be preparing specific resources, running a campaign to increase awareness and service access, curating four community events—three in regional NSW—and conducting a new engagement initiative called ‘Team Up to Talk Touch Test’ to drive participation,” she said.
Sarah McGill, Director of Cancer Screening and Prevention at the Cancer Institute NSW, said that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women, with one in eight women developing breast cancer in their lifetime.
“The vast majority of these women will not have a family history of breast cancer,” she said.
“Breast screening can find cancers before they can be felt or noticed. We want to detect cancers early, and thereby increase survival rates. This is why we are working hard to ensure all eligible people in NSW are accessing mammograms every two years.”
Price said several factors put queer women at higher risk for breast cancer.
“We know from our SWASH study that LBQ women smoke at almost three times the rate of the general population, have lower rates for cancer screening, they are less likely to have children—all risk factors for breast cancer—and LGBTI women are not reached by mainstream health campaigns,” she said.
“We know that more generally, transgender and gender diverse people face different barriers when it comes to accessing services. ACON and BreastScreen NSW are working together to better include transgender and gender diverse people when it comes to messaging about breast screening.”
Over 350 delegates are attending the LBQ Women’s Health Conference in Sydney this week. The national summit on the health and wellbeing of LBQ women is exploring best practice and available research in working with LBQ women around mental and sexual health, alcohol and other drug use, and broader women’s health issues.