Mobile mammogram campaign

A LOCAL campaign has begun to get the mobile BreastScreen van to come back to Ballina.

Robyn Sparks, a breast cancer survivor and facilitator of the Ballina Breast Cancer Support Group, is leading the charge, with a petition calling for the bus to be brought back to Ballina, and other towns on the Northern Rivers.

She will also meet Cancer Council representatives today to discuss the issue.

The North Coast Area Health Service reduced the number of mobile units from three to one earlier this year.

But Ms Sparks said women in Ballina were disadvantaged by a lack of public transport to get to the permanent clinics at Lismore and Tweed Heads.

“Early diagnosis greatly increases a woman's chance of survival,” she said.

“And the visual reminder is a big thing. You can pop in during your lunch break.”

Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin and State Member for Ballina Don Page are also concerned.

“As one of the founders of Lismore BreastScreen, I have long promoted the importance of access to mammogram services for local women, and any removal of services is a step backwards,” Ms Saffin said.

Mr Page said the unit's removal would make it more difficult for working women in particular..

“Fewer people will benefit from early detection because of the lack of access,” he said.

A spokesperson for the North Coast Area Health Service said the reduction of mobile BreastScreen units wasn't a cost-cutting exercise.

Free mammograms for women 40 years and over are available at Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Tweed Heads and Port Macquarie.

The petition can be signed at Mr Page's office or at the Cancer Council in Alstonville.



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