The mobile BreastScreen van is returning to Yass in August, and Yass Valley Councillor Jasmin Jones believes that it is a good start to improving breast cancer awareness and treatment locally.
The van travels across NSW, offering free mammograms to women all across the state.
Early detection is key, says Cancer Institute NSW (CINSW) Director of Screening and Prevention Sarah McGill, particularly because one in eight women in NSW will be affected by breast cancer in their lifetime.
“A woman diagnosed with breast cancer in NSW today has among the highest chances of survival in the world. However, we know that early detection is the key to survival,” Ms McGill said.
“These mammograms can detect cancers before they can be seen or felt. If detected early, survival from breast cancer can be as high as 97 per cent.”
Cr Jones agrees, saying that “you can’t underestimate how important it is to have services that travel to rural areas to increase women’s participation rates in important preventative measures.”
According to Cr Jones, in 2011 Yass women who work across the border lost access to free mammograms in the ACT system, and the Memorandum of Understanding fell over between the two governments.
“As a newly elected councilor, I took it upon myself to try and bring those parties together to reform that MOU,” Cr Jones said.
“So by 2013, we had a fresh Memorandum of Understanding, and that brought back 1000 appointments across the border for our women.
“It was very frustrating for me as a local government councilor to learn that our women were putting their hand in their pocket to the tune of over $300 because they couldn’t get back to Yass to get to the van.”
This, Cr Jones said, is why it is important for Yass to develop its own breast cancer screening facilities.
“There is a definite need to have services available on a regular basis that are community-wide.
“Transport is such an issue for our community. The lack of transport into places like Goulburn, Queanbeyan, and the ACT [makes] services that come to our doorstep or are available here – whether it be a seasonal basis or all year ‘round – are a critical component to keeping our community healthy.”
The BreastScreen will be available in Yass from the 11th of August to the sixth of October.
Ms McGill urges women between 50 and 74 to get screened once every two years in the interest of catching any signs early.
“It is a free service that could save your life,” Ms McGill said.
Call 13 20 50 to make a booking.