Posted on October 4, 2021
In a first for Wellington, people with breast cancer will now have access to lymphoedema screening services for the early detection and management of lymphoedema.
Bowen Icon Cancer Centre, a private day oncology centre located at Bowen Hospital in Crofton Downs, is now home to the only lymphoedema screening service in Wellington following the installation of an advanced SOZO® machine – the latest technology for detecting early-stage cancer-related lymphoedema.
Over the next 12 months Bowen Icon Cancer Centre, a partnership between Evolution Healthcare and Icon Group, will pilot the lymphoedema screening service for all patients being treated for breast cancer for free. The screening service will be delivered in partnership with an accredited lymphoedema therapist, who has extensive experience in the prevention and management of lymphoedema.
Sue Channon, Chief Executive Officer of Evolution Healthcare, said, “Early detection and treatment of developing lymphoedema can greatly determine the outcome for people diagnosed with breast cancer.”
“People living with lymphoedema have a high cost to their quality of life. However, with early detection and treatment, people’s symptoms are reduced and potentially, their lymphoedema is reversed. Our lymphoedema screening service will support this.”
Darien Montgomerie, Site Manager at Bowen Icon Cancer Centre, said, “We are very proud to now offer the latest in lymphoedema screening technology for the Wellington community at Bowen Icon Cancer Centre. International research has shown that regular screening, education, early detection and management of lymphoedema can reduce lymphoedema progression by 95%.”
“This pilot ensures that the many men and women who receive or are living with a breast cancer diagnosis in the Wellington region now have the opportunity to access accurate screening for the development and progression of lymphoedema with no out-of-pocket costs – whether they are a public or private patient.”
In an agreement between both Evolution Healthcare and Icon Group, access has been made as easy as possible for patients.
“We want to help as many people being treated for breast cancer as possible, which is why we are opening access for patients to refer themselves to our service. As a result, wait times are minimal, which further enhances the opportunity for patients to be seen quickly for early surveillance, screening and treatment,” said Ms Channon.
Ah-Leen Rayner, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, said,“Lymphoedema is a distressing side effect after breast cancer surgery that can be expensive and difficult to manage. It’s fantastic to see more lymphoedema screening services opening to reduce the progression of lymphoedema and the impact this can have, as women in many areas struggle to access treatment. We’re eager to see more services available in both DHBs and private clinics so that all women affected can get the screening and treatment they need.”
General Breast Surgeon, Mr Alexander Brown, works across both public and private hospitals including Wakefield and Bowen, welcomes the service to the Wellington region.
“Lymphoedema can effect anyone after breast cancer surgery. Thankfully surgery today is much less aggressive than in the past, so fewer patients are affected as badly. However, lymphoedema can still be a significant problem and it’s much better to identify and treat it early. The new lymphoedema service at Bowen Icon Cancer Centre gives women in the Wellington region the opportunity to be monitored for the early changes and start taking simple measures to avoid lymphoedema becoming a bigger problem. This will be a fantastic resource and I am looking forward to seeing the benefits for breast cancer patients in the region,” says Mr Brown.
Whilst Bowen Icon Cancer Centre is currently providing this service for breast cancer patients, there is a potential to expand the services to a number of cancer types, including prostate cancer.
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