Northlanders benefit from new breast diagnostic ultrasound machine
Northland women who have been waiting to find out if they have a breast cancer diagnosis have benefited from a new ultrasound machine, thanks to a $52,000 donation from Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (BCFNZ).
The addition of this machine to Whangarei’s Mauri Ora Breast Clinic is helping to meet growing demand for breast screening, which has increased by 45% since the clinic opened in 2006.
Chief executive of BCFNZ, Evangelia Henderson, said she was thrilled the charity was able to respond to Northland DHB’s urgent appeal to fund half of the $104,000 machine: “Receiving a timely diagnosis is crucial to improving your chance of surviving breast cancer as it means you can start on treatment sooner, so this new machine will make a real difference for people in Northland.”
Mauri Ora Breast Clinic service manager, Barb Miller, said: “Before the new machine was installed in February, if the one machine we had broke down, patients were sent home until the technician arrived from Auckland. A large percentage of our population are from the mid and far north. Some of these women travel large distances to their appointment, and if it was cancelled, they would have to come back – which could delay their diagnosis.”
Radiologist at the DHB, Kim Shepherd, said having the additional ultrasound has been especially helpful during their Thursday assessment clinics: “Patients often need longer ultrasound appointments than anticipated. Before, we were conscious that patients were sitting in the waiting room and often stressed. Now we can spend the extra time assessing, knowing the other radiologist can get on with other appointments using the second machine.”
The new ultrasound also provides more functionality and better picture quality, which Kim said is important for large-breasted women and therefore vital in Northland.
Barb Miller said they are exceptionally grateful to BCFNZ for the large donation: “Women comment on how well cared they feel coming through the assessment clinic and what a difference it makes – so this has made it even better.”
Each year more than 160 people in Northland are diagnosed with breast cancer, and we still lose 25 people in the region to breast cancer every year. BCFNZ is a not-for-profit organisation that depends on donations and fundraising for its work in breast cancer education and awareness, medical research and training grants, advocacy, and supporting Kiwis with breast cancer.