[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 7 August 2005, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Kylie 'could cut cancer deaths'
Kylie Minogue
The pop star was diagnosed with breast cancer in May
The "Kylie effect" could cut breast cancer deaths with more women getting screened since the pop singer's diagnosis, a researcher says.

Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer in May and has had surgery to remove a lump.

A study has shown that coverage of her case over two weeks caused an unprecedented increase in bookings for breast screening in Australia.

Simon Chapman, of the University of Sydney, said the number rose 40%.

News coverage

The professor of public health said he looked at the numbers of booked mammograms as part of the government's BreastScreen programmes in the 19 weeks before, the two weeks during and the six weeks after the publicity surrounding Kylie's illness.

As a result of Kylie Minogue's diagnosis there was a 20-fold increase in the news coverage of breast cancer on Australian TV, he said.

This coverage emphasised that young women also got breast cancer and that early detection of the disease was critical for successful treatment.

Early detection is vital for prompt treatment and improving the chances of survival
Dr Sarah Rawlings, Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Professor Chapman also found a 101% increase in bookings for women in the eligible age group for the BreastScreen programme - 40 to 69 - who had not been screened before.

He also discovered that six weeks after the publicity, mammogram bookings remained nearly 40% up in previously unscreened women.

Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Chapman said that stories about health and medicine could lead to dramatic changes in consumer behaviour.

He said that capitalising on the interest generated by celebrity illnesses could increase news coverage of health topics to levels that would usually require huge campaign budgets.

"Health advocates should develop anticipatory strategies for responding to news coverage of celebrity illness," he said.

Web hits

Dr Sarah Rawlings, head of policy at UK charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "It's encouraging to hear that Kylie's unfortunate diagnosis has led to more Australian women realising the importance of early detection and attending screening appointments.

"Breakthrough has witnessed thousands more web hits and calls since this news broke.

"In the UK, all women are entitled to screening from the age of 50 and we encourage these women to attend their appointments.

"Women should also get to know how their breasts look and feel normally so they can see their GP if they notice any changes - early detection is vital for prompt treatment and improving the chances of survival."

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the UK, with more than 41,000 new cases each year.

About one in nine women is estimated to develop breast cancer during their lifetime.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific