Impact of news of celebrity illness on breast cancer screening: Kylie Minogue's breast cancer diagnosis

Med J Aust. 2005 Sep 5;183(5):247-50. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2005.tb07029.x.


Objectives: To describe the main media narratives in the reportage of singer Kylie Minogue's illness with breast cancer; and to assess the impact of this coverage on bookings for screening for breast cancer by mammography in four Australian states.

Setting: Government sponsored BreastScreen programs in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Main outcome measures: Narratives on breast cancer in television news programs 17-27 May 2005; initial and re-screening bookings for mammograms.

Participants: Women aged > or = 40 years who booked for mammograms in BreastScreen programs in the 19 weeks before, the 2 weeks during, and the 6 weeks after the publicity.

Results: There was a 20-fold increase in news coverage of breast cancer, which emphasised that young women do get breast cancer and that early detection was critical. Overall screening bookings rose 40% in the 2 weeks of the publicity, with a 101% increase in non-screened women in the eligible age-group 40-69 years. Six weeks after the publicity, bookings remained more than a third higher in non-screened women.

Conclusions: News coverage of Kylie Minogue's breast cancer diagnosis caused an unprecedented increase in bookings for mammography. Health advocates should develop anticipatory strategies for responding to news coverage of celebrity illness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Famous Persons*
  • Female
  • Health Education / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Media / statistics & numerical data
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*