The age-standardised participation rate of females in the age range 50–74 years has remained steady at 54.5% in 2016–2017, after being 54.3% in 2015–2016 and 53.2% in 2014–2015.1 Among females in the previous target age range of 50–69 years, the age-standardised participation rate has fluctuated between approximately 51.7% and 57.6% since 1996–1997, but has increased slightly from 53.7% in 2013–2014 to 54.4% in 2016–2017, and has remained steady at 53.9% in 2018-2019.1
A trend for declining age-specific participation rates had been apparent for females aged in their 50s since the early 2000s, although the most recent data indicates a reversal of this trend. By contrast, participation rates for females aged in their early 60s remained relatively stable over that time. The most recent data (2018–2019) for each age group shows a similar participation rate compared to 2015–2016, except a slight decline in participation for females aged 55-59 years and 60-64, and for females aged 70–74 years amongst whom participation has continued to increase since 2014–2015. This is due in part to the phasing in of target screening resources for this age group, as well as established screening habits, and potentially lesser work and family commitments.1
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The age-standardised participation rate among Indigenous females in the target age range 50–74 years increased from 33.7% in 2014–2015 to 38.3% in 2018–2019. Among Indigenous females in the previous target age range of 50–69 years, the age-standardised participation rate has increased significantly (from 30.3% in 1998-1999 to 38.0% in 2018–2019). Over the same period, the participation rate for non-Indigenous females aged 50–69 years increased from 42.9% to 54.0%.1
Remoteness and socioeconomic status (SES)
Participation rates by remoteness area are available for the 2-year periods 2014–2015, 2015–2016, 2016–2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 for females in the target age range 50–74 years. Across these periods, participation rates have been consistently lowest in Very Remote areas, and highest in Outer Regional areas.
Participation rates by SES area are also available for the 2-year periods 2014–2015, 2015–2016, 2016–2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 for females in target age range 50–74 years. Across these periods, there were small differences in participation rates among SES 2, SES 4 and SES 5. Participation rates remained the lowest among SES 1, the most disadvantaged SES area, during 2014-2015 to 2018-2019.
Participation rates and breast cancer control in Australia
Since the introduction of BreastScreen Australia, the age-standardised incidence rate for female breast cancer has increased (from 100.4 per 100,000 in 1991, to 124.4 per 100,000 in 2015, see Cancer incidence). During this period, there has been a decrease in the age-standardised breast cancer mortality rate (from 31.3 per 100,000 in 1991 to 19.9 per 100,000 in 2016, see Cancer mortality) and an increase in 5-year survival rate (from 85.5% in 1997–2001 to 91.5% in 2013–2017).2 In conjunction with other breast cancer awareness programs, BreastScreen Australia has increased numbers of breast cancers detected at an early stage, likely leading to more successful treatments and better mortality outcomes.1,3