BSWA adventures in the Indian Ocean Territories

BSWA adventures in the Indian Ocean Territories

...mud crabs, mammograms and much, much rain

BreastScreen WA provides screening mammograms to women all over WA and, on behalf of the Australian Government, in the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.  A total of 950 mammograms have been performed in the Territories between 2006 and 2016, with 87 women having their examination on the Western Australian mainland in 2016 due to an essential upgrade to Indian Ocean Territories onsite X-ray equipment.

The Australian Government, on advice from BreastScreen WA and acting in collaboration with the Indian Ocean Territories Health Service and the North Metropolitan Health Service, replaced the old equipment with new full field digital mammography technology. The new technology allows direct electronic connection with BreastScreen WA.  Digital images can be easily stored and transmitted for prompt delivery to BreastScreen WA, providing a faster result for women living in the Territories.  If needed, these images can also be transferred electronically to other health professionals to assist specialists better manage the woman's breast cancer journey.

As BreastScreen WA hadn’t been to Christmas Island since 2014, and a number of women were overdue for their mammogram, BreastScreen WA started screening women as soon as the new equipment was installed. This meant visiting Christmas Island in late November 2017 at the start of the wet season, and cyclones.

BreastScreen WA Radiographer Liz Skret spent longer than expected on the island, as flights had to be cancelled as bad weather approached.  “It was a bit of serendipity that I was there just as the crab migration happened, so I saw lots of red crabs and rain after screening all the ladies who had been waiting for us to arrive.”

Liz screened 147 women during her stay on Christmas Island and BreastScreen WA will be scheduling the next visit to Christmas Island in Spring 2019, seeing a return to regularly visiting the island every two years.

BreastScreen WA is also screening women in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (5-9 February 2018) and approximately 120 women are expected to attend.

Dr Liz Wylie, BreastScreen WA’s Medical Director, is encouraging all women over 50 to have a free screening mammogram. “By taking the time to have a regular screening mammogram every two years, women will increase their chances of detecting breast cancer at an early stage. Early detection and treatment may save many lives,” Dr Wylie said.

BreastScreen WA screens women 40 years and over, specifically targeting women aged 50-74 years with no breast symptoms. 

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Last Updated: 30/01/2018