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Project Mammogram Begins

By Mike Brown

This is a joint fund-raising project for a Mammogram machine for the wider community by the Whitianga Lions and the Mercury Bay Lions (formally the lioness club of Mercury Bay).

The Project is to raise funds for a 3D Mammogram machine based in Whitianga. Ten percent of women and one percent of men in New Zealand will be affected by breast cancer in their life times and early detection through breast screening saves lives and gives better outcomes; hence the reason that our women and men require a reliable accessible service in Whitianga that complies with best practice.

Let me set out the current situation for women wanting to have a mammogram in the Coromandel Peninsula area. There is a mammogram bus that visits the Coromandel annually and is Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand funded for women between the ages of 45 and 69. Women outside the 45 to 69 age group cannot book a breast screening appointment with the bus. Women and men outside the funded age group therefore have to travel to Hamilton and in most cases, pay approximately $220.00 plus travel costs for a Mammogram. Those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer are paid for by Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand.

The risk profile for the women under 45 is primarily related to a family history of Breast Cancer or is lifestyle relate. Very often, early detection of breast cancer in this age group is not found due to the busy lifestyles of these women, meaning they put off the trip to Hamilton, and present later for treatment and the outcomes for them are negatively affected. Women who are over 69 often stop getting their Mammograms due to time and cost resulting in an increasing incidence of late diagnosis of breast cancer

Breast Screening Midland /Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand has reduced its mobile service in the Coromandel, but has installed a fixed-site pilot mammography service at Te Korowai o Hauraki Thames that, if successful, will be made permanent. Assessment clinics however will still be carried out at Hamilton. The 3D machine may save these trips as it has up to a 40 % better accuracy than a 2D machine. Our research shows that having a best practice 3D machine accessible locally would allow a higher proportion of women and men to be screened in all age groups, thus promoting early detection and better outcomes. We estimate, based on the figures recently published for the local body elections, that there are approximately 6,000 women of an age where they should have a breast screening mammogram in the area from Whangamata to Coromandel.

Given the above, by having a mammography system in Whitianga, we could substantially reduce the number of trips to Hamilton and Thames by people from the Coromandel Peninsula, thus reducing the costs to the community and Breast Screening Midland/ Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand. Having a mammogram machine in Whitianga would remove the necessity for the bus to visit annually and make mammography more accessible to the Coromandel Peninsular community as it would be available throughout the year.

Climate Change A secondary benefit would be vehicle emissions are reduced. The bus would not have to travel to the Coromandel Peninsula and the many vehicle trips to Hamilton and Thames patients have to make for their checkups and screening would be reduced dramatically.

Community Benefits Breast screening would be available for appointments throughout the year to suit all women. Working women would not need to take a day off work to attend breast screening in Hamilton or Thames. Early detection of breast cancer equals better outcomes, so those that are currently busy and putting off attending screening, are more likely to get a mammogram if it’s easily accessible and and they have appointment options. Women under the age 45 and over the age of 70 and who are not funded by Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand will save on the cost of travel and be able to have their mammogram locally.

Costs for a 3D machine We have a goal of raising the funds in two years and we have set a target of $350,000 for a new machine.

How you can help? You can donate at Unichem Stephenson’s Pharmacy or make payment directly by internet banking to the Mercury Bay Lions Charitable Trust bank account 03-1578-0088621-00. Include your name in the Reference section and PJM in the Code section.

For a receipt for tax purposes please email including your reference name.

Note each donation at Unichem Stephenson’s Pharmacy goes into a monthly draw for a $100 gift card donated by the pharmacy.

Also watch out for community events that are fund raisers for the mammogram machine.

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