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  • Breast Cancer Screening Saving Lives

    24 September 2018

    In the lead up to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer Council SA is teaming up with BreastScreen SA to remind eligible regional women to book in their two-yearly mammograms.

    Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed amongst South Australian women, with more than 1,400 new cases every year.

    A recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) showed that for women who were diagnosed with breast cancer through BreastScreen Australia, the risk of death was 42% lower than those who had never been screened.

    With that in mind, South Australians are urged to keep an eye out from October to January as the BreastScreen SA mobile screening units travel across regional South Australia, with visits scheduled for Port Lincoln, Cleve, Wudinna, Streaky Bay, Ceduna, Port Augusta, Berri, Victor Harbor, Kingscote and Mount Barker.

    The BreastScreen SA mobile screening units provide free mammograms to local women aged between 50 and 74 years, allowing them to keep on top of their regular checks without having to head to Adelaide.

    Port Augusta local Cheryl Hewett knows all too well that regular breast screening can save lives.

    “My mother passed away from cervical cancer at just 24 years of age so mammograms and pap smears have always been a huge part of my life. I began having mammograms at 50 years of age and have continued them ever since.”

    “Last year in January, just before my 65th birthday I was booked in to have my regular mammogram. I’d had mammograms many times before so didn’t think much of it. I thought everything went well and then I got the phonecall that everyone dreads—they had found a spot on my left breast and I was needed in Adelaide for more extensive tests.”

    “The spot was confirmed as a tumour and I was told that I needed to have lumpectomy, followed by a re-excision of the margin, then the regime of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy.”

    Cheryl says that throughout her journey, Cancer Council SA were a constant pillar of support.

    “I was on the phone to the 13 11 20 nurses throughout and after I finished treatment, they offered me a week of rest and recuperation at the Apex Copper Coast Retreats which provided us with a much needed opportunity to relax and recharge.” 

    Now doing well, Cheryl is sharing her story with others to encourage them to take advantage of the free mammograms provided by BreastScreen SA. 

    “I can’t reiterate just how important screening is, particularly if you have a family history. Catching cancer early is so important and having the bus come to you makes it so easy. We all need to take responsibility for our health, and there’s no reason to put it off.”

    Cancer Council SA General Manager Services, Research and Public Policy, Alana Sparrow, says that early detection through regular screening really does save lives.

    “We are really pleased to see that the five year survival rate for breast cancer is the highest of all cancers.  This can be attributed to advances in early detection and treatment,” she explained.

    “However, it’s important that we don’t get complacent. Catching breast cancer early gives women the best chance for effective treatment, which is why all women aged 50 to 74 should take advantage of free mammograms through BreastScreen SA, who travel to their communities and make regular screening convenient and accessible,” she said.

    BreastScreen SA Promotions and Education Manager, Karen Woodcock, said the two biggest risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and being over 50.

    “Nine out of ten women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease,” Ms Woodcock said.

    “The best way to detect breast cancer early is by having a screening mammogram every two years. Screening mammograms can detect most breast cancers, including some too small to be felt.”

    The earlier a breast cancer is found, the more chance a woman has of successful treatment.

    “One breast screen is not enough to last a lifetime. It takes just 10 minutes, and it could save your life,” said Ms Woodcock.

    To book an appointment or find out more about the BreastScreen SA mobile screening units and when they are coming to your area, call 13 20 50 or visit www.breastscreensa.sa.gov.au.

    To find out more about breast cancer visit www.cancersa.org.au or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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