Digital enhancement good for breasts

Launching the new digital screening technology at BreastScreen in Lismore yesterday (Wednesday) were (l-r) NSW Premier Morris Iemma, Lismore BreastScreens chief radiographer Sue Cross and Dr Wendy Vincent, the clinical director of BreastScreen Sydney South West, where the technology has been used for two years.

Women undergoing mammograms will be subject to half the dose of radiation and radiographers will have a better chance of detecting breast cancers thanks to new, digital screening technology at BreastScreen in Lismore.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma was in Lismore yesterday (Wednesday) to unveil the new equipment, worth nearly $1 million, which is part of a $26m upgrade of the BreastScreen program across NSW.

You wont get any better technology than this in the world, Mr Iemma said. Its an Australian first.

The new equipment enables much higher quality images of breast tissue to be taken than previously possible with film X-rays. This improves the chances of detecting abnormalities in very early stages and also means women will be able to get results immediately.

Scans can also be electronically transmitted between screening centres for analysis by experienced radiologists and an electronic archiving system means records are easily accessible.

The new technology will also be installed in a bright pink and purple mobile van from June 16, ensuring women in remote areas and those with transport problems can access the screenings.

The new equipment was installed 12 months ahead of schedule and all upgrades across NSW will be completed by the end of 2009.

I am absolutely amazed the clarity of the images is vastly improved and that will give women a better outcome, Lismore BreastScreen chief radiographer Sue Cross said. It also means, as employees, we are not working with chemicals anymore. I love my job and I love the women, thats why I keep coming back. But after 15 years of doing the same thing, its nice to do something different. Its good for the brain!

When detected early, the survival rate from breast cancer in NSW is 97 per cent.

BreastScreen offers free mammograms to all women aged 50 to 69 or women over 40 with a family history of breast cancer. BreastScreen is located at 29 Uralba Street, Lismore. To make an appointment, phone 132 050.

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