Breastscreening — Mammography machine

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Number: A27/2016

Date: 25 October 2016

Relevant: Christmas Island

Topic: Breastscreening – Mammography machine

Yesterday marked the Cancer Council's Pink Ribbon Day which aims to raise awareness about breast and gynaecological cancers.

On 12 August we advised that the mammography machine had not met the Australian Standards required for screening. We are still in the process of assessing the costs of having the equipment repaired or replaced, and some other options.

In understanding breast cancer and its diagnosis, it is important to note the difference between routine screening, and a diagnostic mammogram. If a mammogram is performed in the BreastScreen Australia program, it is a free breast x-ray test for women who do not have any symptoms and do not require a doctor's referral. This is not an urgent service and women who may be visiting Perth in the near future can arrange a free mammogram with BreastScreen by calling 13 20 50.

Women who have clinical concerns or breast cancer symptoms require a doctor's appointment, and if necessary, a referral to a breast specialist in Perth. Having a mammogram machine does not enable breast cancer diagnosis—it only means we can screen for abnormalities in women who have no symptoms and no history of breast cancer. We cannot carry out diagnostic mammography on Christmas Island and this service is unchanged by the current machine deficiency.

If you have any concerns about your breast health, please contact the IOTHS to make an appointment with a doctor. IOTHS will continue to ensure breast screening and diagnostic imaging options are available, and that appropriate care is afforded to the women of Christmas Island.

Another bulletin will be issued once we have further information on the way forward.

Leon Mills
Indian Ocean Territories