‘Magic’ breast test tipped

PLENTY TO SAY: Raelene Boyle, Professor Jane Turner and Professor Fran Boyle at the Nambour Civic Centre for a Breast Cancer Network Australia forum.
PLENTY TO SAY: Raelene Boyle, Professor Jane Turner and Professor Fran Boyle at the Nambour Civic Centre for a Breast Cancer Network Australia forum. John Mccutcheon

A LEADING oncologist believes a test that can instantly confirm or give the all-clear in a breast cancer diagnosis is the next big step towards beating the disease.

Leading cancer expert Professor Fran Boyle says one of the toughest things about a diagnosis is the uncertainty around being given the all-clear.

The Sydney-based oncologist joined hundreds of women from south-east Queensland at the Nambour Civic Centre for Breast Cancer Network Australia's Living Well Beyond Breast Cancer forum.

"It would be a magic test that says, 'you're fixed or you need more treatment'," she said. "I'm putting my money on that happening within the next decade."

With more than 15,000 Australians - women and men - expected to be diagnosed this year alone, organisations such as BCNA are vital to keeping sufferers, survivors and their families up to date.

Prof Boyle joined Olympian and breast cancer survivor Raelene Boyle and psychologist Professor Jane Turner to speak to the large crowd.

She said each case of breast cancer was unique and functions such as the forum gave sufferers and families the tools they needed to be in control of their own journey.

Prof Boyle also said sufferers could find it hard to ask important questions, highlighting the importance of striking up a good relationship with an oncologist.

"You need Australian information," she said.

"A relationship with an oncologist is very important. They need to know as much about the individual as they can."

Prof Boyle said living well after being given the all-clear was also a tough pill to swallow for some survivors.

While many were happy to have made it through cancer alive, for many more their lives had completely changed forever, sometimes for the worse.

"Breast cancer can take a serious toll on relationships," Prof Boyle said.

"Sufferers and survivors might find they had less support than they thought they would from family and friends.

"Plus they might be unsatisfied with how their body looks and feels to them.

"Treatment for lymphedema (a limb-swelling side-effect of chemotherapy treatment) is not well supported by Medicare."

BCNA chief executive Christine Nolan said it was important for families around the country to have access to the best possible information and support.

BCNA is the peak national organisation for Australians personally affected by breast cancer and consists of a network of more than 100,000 individual members and 300 member groups.

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