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Close the Gap Day– improving cancer outcomes in Indigenous Women

March 17, 2016

To mark the annual Close the Gap Day, Cancer Australia has released a community education resource to improve gynaecological and breast cancer outcomes for Indigenous women in Australia.

The resource will be used at Women’s Business workshops to increase understanding of the risk factors and symptoms of breast and gynaecological cancers, and promote the importance of breast screening, cervical screening and HPV vaccinations.

While Australians experience some of the best cancer survival rates in the world, Indigenous Australians continue to experience significantly poorer cancer outcomes.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Indigenous women are also almost 70% more likely to be diagnosed with gynaecological cancers than non-Indigenous Women.

“Indigenous women are less likely to participate in screening programs and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer that has progressed to an advanced stage compared with non-Indigenous Australians,” said Cancer Australia’s CEO, Professor Helen Zorbas.

Cancer workshop for Indigenous women

Raising awareness in communities

The Women’s Business workshops will use yarning, face-to-face storytelling, to break down barriers and misconceptions like shame and guilt about breast and gynaecological cancers. Participants are actively encouraged to take part in the prevention and detection of cancer and become empowered by learning more about:

  • making lifestyle changes to reduce cancer risk
  • knowing their body
  • finding cancer early and surviving
  • sharing what they have learnt with their family and friends.

“It is important that we work with the Indigenous community to address this disparity in outcomes through improved knowledge and raised awareness of cancer,” Professor Zorbas continued.

“It is our hope that by taking this knowledge directly to Indigenous communities we can improve cancer outcomes for Indigenous Australians.”

Up to thirty Women’s Business workshops will be delivered across all states and territories in Australia and the community education resource is available to health professionals who wish to run their own workshops. For more information visit the Cancer Australia website.

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