People with intellectual disabilities should have the same right to access cancer screening opportunities and other preventative services as everyone else in the community.
International and Australian data indicates that people with disabilities are under screened for cancer.
In May Charissa from Cancer Council Victoria came to the VALID Self Advocacy Forum meeting to talk to the Forum members about what could be done to encourage more people with disabilities to be screened for cancer, specifically breast, bowel and cervical cancer.
Charissa asked the group what they knew about screening and if anyone had undergone cancer screening in the past. The Forum members were knowledgeable about the different types of screening tests but very few had been screened for cancer.
Some of the thoughts and key messages from the group were:
“I ignored the kit - it’s too difficult”
“I’m scared to visit the doctor and find out I have cancer”
“It’s not talked about (by doctor or family).”
“Different body parts have different screening tests e.g. breast and bowel tests for people over the age of 50, cervical tests over the age of 25”
Then in October Judy from Cancer Council Victoria and Rachel from Breast Screening Victoria asked to work with VALID and a group of self advocates to ensure that people with a disability are aware of how to access cancer screening in Victoria. This group of self advocates will create some awareness posters and also be trained and supported by Judy and Rachel to educate their peers about breast, cervical and bowel cancer screening. This will include going to the VALID self advocacy networks and other self advocacy groups in 2019.
They will also be presenting at the 2019 Having a Say Conference.
We look forward to working with the Cancer Council Victoria and Breast Screen Victoria to promote the importance of breast, cervical and bowel cancer screening to as many people as possible.