NO CHANGE: Thérèse Dunn was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40. She opposes restrictions suggested for mammograms.
NO CHANGE: Thérèse Dunn was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40. She opposes restrictions suggested for mammograms. Jacklyn Wagner

Concern at breast screen changes

AT 44 years of age Thérèse Dunn is a survivor.

The single mother from Wollongbar has survived breast cancer.

It was only through a random self-check one night that she realised something wasn't quite right.

“It was a month after I turned 40,” she recounted. “I was just getting into the shower and checked myself and thought 'Oh, is that my rib?' It was the size of a pea so I went and saw my GP.”

After a mammogram and ultrasound Ms Dunn was advised that there was a lump that was possibly benign.

“Something told me to follow it up,” she said. “So I had a biopsy. If I had left it I would be in all sorts of trouble.”

Now, four years later and with both breasts removed, her prognosis is good.

With the Government's Department of Health and Aging's BreastScreen Australia Evaluation report recommending that women younger than 45 and older than 75 no longer have access to the free breast screening service, Ms Dunn doesn't agree.

“For women my age money can be tight,” she said. “So a check-up may go on the back-burner and treatment further down the track may be at greater cost to the health system.”

The Central Cancer Institute website records that between 2004 to 2006 cases of breast cancer in women in the 35-39 age group jumps from 446 to 960 in the 40-44 age group, a growth of 115 per cent.

Therefore, Lismore breast specialist Dr Austin Curtin still encourages all women to continue with breast examinations.

“Especially if they have a family history of breast cancer, or are having children late,” he said.

Lismore mayor, Jenny Dowell, a breast cancer survivor herself, is concerned about the recommendations.

“Once women hit 40 I'd be concerned that there is no free screening for them,” she said. “Resources for breast screening should increase.”



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