Breast Cancer Conference a Stunning Success
Breast Cancer Network NZ Inc Media Release 29 October 2007
For immediate release
First National Breast Cancer Conference a Stunning Success
New Zealand’s first national conference for those affected by breast cancer culminated in a moving closing ceremony in Rotorua yesterday (Sunday 28 October). The conference, attended by more than 470 women and men from throughout the country, exceeded the expectations of the organisers, Breast Cancer Network (NZ).
The calibre of the speakers and their presentations was outstanding and the delegates had the benefit of the knowledge and experience of both local and international breast cancer experts.
The delegates were delighted with the presentations and attendance at the conference by Dr Susan Love, internationally recognised breast surgeon, researcher and women’s health advocate, and other keynote speakers Dr Maricel Maffini, Professor Ingrid Winship and Phil Kerslake, together with New Zealand’s top breast cancer specialists from a wide range of disciplines. The conference format gave participants numerous formal and informal opportunities to hear about the latest in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and to voice their concerns and opinions to the speakers.
“Despite the devastating impact of breast cancer and the serious nature of the talks, the conference was a fun event and one that the participants had been looking forward to for many months,” says Sue Claridge, media spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Network. “It is a tribute to the knowledge, wisdom and compassion of the speakers that they managed, on many occasions, to elicit considerable laughter from the 470 strong audience, the vast majority of whom had experienced breast cancer.”
The conference theme, Moving Forward Together – Ahu Whakamua Tatou, epitomised the atmosphere that reverberated through the three days of plenary sessions and workshops. For both those who attended, and the Breast Cancer Network, a vital component of the conference was the opportunity to make a difference.
One of the main aims of the conference was to compile a set of recommendations that would allow this country to move forward on an individual, regional and national level; to reduce the incidence of breast cancer, to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, and to reduce mortality from the disease.
The preliminary recommendations, which were announced immediately prior to the closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon include:
1. That a national breast cancer database be prioritised and implemented as a critical tool for the prevention, management and control of breast cancer.
2. That there be better access to anti-cancer drugs for all those diagnosed with breast cancer and that there be greater consumer participation and consultation in the drug funding process.
3. That all breast cancer patients have timely access to world best practice treatment and ongoing care, and that delays and waiting lists for treatment such as radiotherapy and reconstruction be addressed as a matter of priority
4. That inequities in the access to care, and participation in diagnostic and treatment services be addressed and improved among Māori and Pacifika women.
5. That environmental and lifestyle influences on the development of breast cancer be addressed and that information on these issues and what can be done to avoid exposures to carcinogenic substances be made available to New Zealanders through schools and the education system, public health nurses, maternity carers, Plunket and other health care providers.
6. That women receive greater and better information about all aspects of care and treatment, including the national breast screening programme, surgical and drug options.
7. That MRI imaging be funded and made available for high risk women.
It is expected that the full set of recommendations will be available within two to three weeks.