First anniversary for ‘incredibly important’ breast care

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St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital’s Breast Care Service has celebrated its first birthday – and staff are now welcoming back some of the original patients as they urge women to remember the importance of regular screening.

Natasha Keir, Queensland’s only nurse practitioner in breast oncology, said early diagnosis was vital to keep survival rates high.

“Breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in Australia, it affects women of all ages, and it’s estimated that around 20,000 women will be diagnosed this year. It also affects some men. That makes our service an incredibly important one for the community,” she said.

“Our role is to diagnose early. Early diagnosis of breast cancer remains extremely important and helps to contribute to the 92 percent survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer in Queensland.”

Based in central Brisbane, the hospital’s breast clinic – which opened in May 2021 – offers personalised care with specialist imaging and services provided by a collaborative team of specialist nurses, radiologists, surgeons, oncologists and a women’s health physiotherapist.

“We recommend regular breast screening for women over the age of 40, and it’s important that if women notice any changes in their breast that they talk to their GP,” Natasha said. 

“With 20 percent of breast cancers diagnosed in young women under the age of 50, it is important to investigate every lump or change, no matter the age.” 

Along with the standard screening method of mammograms, the St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital Breast Care Service also offers a comprehensive breast health assessment and a detailed ultrasound.

“If we find a lesion which requires further investigation, we prioritise and provide timely and co-ordinated care, keeping the patient’s GP informed at all times,” Natasha said.

“Our radiologists have significant experience in breast imaging and interpret the results and provide them promptly for our patients,” she added.

“We believe in expediting the process as much as we possibly can because it’s incredibly important for the wellbeing of the patient who may have just heard the word ‘cancer’ for the first time.”

Natasha helps the team to provide tailored care, supporting and guiding patients through the treatment decision-making process.

“I am privileged to be able to walk alongside our patients supporting them, and am focused on their long-term wellbeing and health outcomes, which continues well beyond diagnosis, immediate surgery and treatment,” she said.

“In the future, we look forward to our service growing and to being there for generations of women to provide the very best and latest in breast screening and care.”

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