Local breast cancer survivor encourages women to become more breast aware

Sydney, 31 October 2017 – One in eight Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they turn 85i. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 2017), HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund, is urging Australians to become more breast aware.

In partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), HCF is sharing stories of members’ experiences with breast cancer, to help raise awareness of the disease and the benefit of keeping up to date with breast checks, as well as early detection.

HCF Bankstown Branch Manager and HCF member for nearly 30 years, Josephine Youssef, 48, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 after a mammogram revealed an abnormality in one of her breasts.

“A mammogram can be uncomfortable, but it is so important, it helps save lives. I was lucky my breast cancer was diagnosed in the early stages”, the mother of two said.

After two surgeries to remove the cancer, and a month of radiotherapy treatment, Josephine says she is passionate about encouraging all women to be more breast aware, including her 14 year old daughter.

“My wish is for all women to get their breasts checked regularly by a professional. Self-examination is important too. If you see or feel any signs of change in your breasts, don’t wait to do something about it. I’m constantly asking my doctor when my daughter should start to get checked. She’s still quite young, but it’s a worry”, said Josephine.

The latest data from Cancer Institute NSW shows that in the South Western Sydney region, more than 500 people were diagnosed with breast cancer in a single year ii, while new research released this month by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) estimates that there will be more than 17,500 new cases of breast cancer in Australian women in 2017, up from more than 15,900 in 2013.iii

Professor Sarah Hosking, CEO of NBCF, said that breast cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australiaiv which makes being breast aware vital.

“Eight women will die from breast cancer each day. By funding life-changing research, NBCF is working towards a goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. Research into early detection has resulted in a national breast screening program, which has helped Australians receive the right treatment at the right time, significantly improving survival rates.”

Josephine said HCF covers a range of breast cancer related services.

“More than 6,300 HCF members have claimed for services relating to breast cancer in the last five years, including 78 members from the Bankstown area.

“I will never forget how supportive HCF was when I had breast cancer. I was seen by one of the best doctors at St George Private Hospital, and I was very quick to be operated on. It was great to have the back up of my private health insurance.”

For more information about breast cancer or to get your breasts checked contact your GP. The NBCF website also has information on breast cancer, including how it can be detected and how research is making a difference. Go to: www.nbcf.org.au


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About HCF

HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and approximately 10,000 providers participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health. To learn more about HCF go to hcf.com.au/about-us


BreastScreen Australia monitoring report, 2014-15 https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/04ac86ad-666f-4004-ad33-7c5c3c3f9260/20460.pdf.aspx?inline=true

ii Cancer Institute NSW, Breast cancer – Age Standardised Incidence Rates, South Western Sydney, 2012 http://www.statistics.cancerinstitute.org.au/trends/trends_incid_C50_extall_X710.htm

iii BreastScreen Australia monitoring report, 2014-15 https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/04ac86ad-666f-4004-ad33-7c5c3c3f9260/20460.pdf.aspx?inline=true

iv Cancer in Australia 2017, AIHW https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-in-australia-2017/contents/table-of-contents