Women aged 45 – 69 living in south Wellington can now get their free two yearly breast screen in Wellington Regional Hospital. The service hasn’t been available since 2008.
Breast Screen Central’s clinical director Dr Madeleine Wall says while screening services have been available on Lambton Quay, from a mobile unit, and, until six months ago, at Wakefield Hospital in Newtown, having a centre located right on the hospital premise is so much more convenient for many women.
“We have many hundreds of staff members who will benefit from this development as well as those women who simply can’t get into the downtown region. Our mobile unit is great and really helps with access, but for women who visit the hospital anyway, or the thousands living in the southern suburbs, this is just that much more convenient.”
Dr Wall has a special message for wāhine Māori.
“Breast screening literally saves lives. I really encouragewomen to prioritise their own lives -and spend the 15 minutes it takes to have a screen.”
Without breast screening, Māori women who get breast cancer are, according to Dr Wall, around 1.7 times more at risk of dying than non Māori women.
“We know from thewāhine Māori diagnosed with breast cancer in this screening programme and treated, that thedisparity in breast cancer survival rates can be completely eliminated.
“Evidence strongly backs regular two yearly mammography screeningas the best way to detect breast cancer so treatment is early and chances of survival higher. Every woman owes it to herself and her whānau to prioritise screening.”
Fionnagh Dougan, joint Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast DHB chief executive says addressing inequitable health outcomesis a key priority for her.
“I am determined to address the challenges of equity for Māori and Pasifika communities through working across both DHBs to deliver resilient and sustainable health services.”
In the 2018/19 financial year 29,349 women were screened in the Breast Screen Central region which incorporates Wellington, Wairarapa, the Hutt Valley and Kapiti Coast, and of those 152 women were diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.
For more information about breast screening check out www.timetoscreen.nz/breast-screening/.
Photo: L-R: Breast Screen Central Clinical Director Dr Madeleine Wall; kaumatua Alex Watson; CCDHB and HVDHB joint CE Fionnagh Dougan; mammographer Yvonne Clarke; health promotion officer Te Rangi Winitana; mammographer Dawn Ruttenberg; Hayley Shatford.