Quicker diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer patients

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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Whanganui women who suspect they have breast cancer can now receive a quicker diagnosis and treatment.

The new service, run out of the Wicksteed St Clinic, is a partnership between the Whanganui District Health Board and Breastscreen Coast to Coast that enables women who have discovered a lump in their breast to receive a mammogram, ultrasound and core biopsy in one place at the same time.

It also means they no longer have to travel to Palmerston North for these services.

Louise Torr, Whanganui District Health Board's business manager medical management unit, said Breastscreen Coast To Coast had installed new mammogram and ultrasound machines. A Palmerston North-based radiologist specialising in breast issues was now spending half a day each week in Whanganui.

Ms Torr said breast cancer needed all three components - imaging, laboratory analysis and a specialist examination - for a diagnosis and the new service meant that diagnosis, and therefore treatment, would happen sooner.

"At a guess, around 30 women per month would be able to use this service," she said.

"This is a significant service improvement."

Ms Torr said work on the service began about four years ago. At that time, women would receive wait separately for a mammogram, then an ultrasound, and then to see the surgeon.

"This added a considerable delay to reaching a diagnosis.

"To speed things up, we sent them to Palmerston North for all three procedures. But now this means things are even faster than before."

However, the new service does not apply to women whose lumps are discovered during a regular mammogram, provided by Breastscreen Aotearoa.

"For these women, they will still have to go to Palmerston North," Ms Torr said.

Ms Torr said anyone who discovers a lump in their breast should visit their GP without delay.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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