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Breast screening made easy for Papamoa residents

20 November 2012

Breast screening made easy for Papamoa residents

With one in seven New Zealand women diagnosed with breast cancer, the Papamoa Pines Medical Centre decided to make it easier for their patients to access breast screening appointments.

Nurse Manager Jane Campbell says it comes down to speaking directly with women about the process and saving them valuable time.

“A Nurses’ Administrative Assistant calls eligible women directly, talks through the process and makes an appointment with BreastScreen Aotearoa for them,” she says. “It is important that women have time to talk about screening to enable them to make an informed choice and to have an appointment that fits in with their busy lives. It’s also about getting the message across that the sooner breast cancer is found, the better the chances are for survival. There are more choices for treatment when breast cancer is found early.”

With the new approach, Papamoa Pines has well exceeded the target of screening 70% of eligible female patients by increasing the number of women screened from 65.4% in February 2012 to 80% in October.

Breast cancer is a significant health issue for New Zealanders and is the leading cause of cancer mortality in New Zealand women. Māori women when compared to non-Māori are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer and, after diagnosis, are two-thirds more likely to die as a result.

“BreastScreen Aotearoa offers free mammograms for women 45 to 69 years and it is recommended women aged 45 and over have screening mammograms every two years,” says Jane. “The mammogram looks for breast lumps and changes in breast tissue that may develop into problems over time.”

Jane admits their old approach to screening was cumbersome and took up valuable nursing time.

“Until April of this year it was the responsibility of our practice nursing team to make contact with eligible women via letter and encourage them to attend for a mammogram,” she says. “We found many women had neither the time nor the inclination to contact BreastScreening themselves. The new process is working well and feedback from patients has been really positive.”

Bay of Plenty District Health Board Maori Health Planning and Funding Senior Portfolio Manager and Breast Screening Champion Kiri Peita encourages women to take part in regular screening: “Early detection is your best protection,” she says.

For more information on breast screening, visit the website or freephone 0800 270 200 for an appointment.


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