Breast cancer won’t wait for COVID

Westmead Hospital Breast Cancer Institute administration officer Deborah Lutton and mammography technologist Meera Ravi.

Make screening a priority this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

BreastScreen NSW is encouraging women aged 50 to 74 to make their health a priority and book a free life-saving mammogram this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Westmead Breast Cancer Institute director Associate Professor Nirmala Pathmanathan said this Breast Cancer Awareness month I encourage women living in Western Sydney to make booking a breast screen a priority.  

“A mammogram takes only 15 minutes and this 15 minutes could save your life,” Nirmala said.

“BreastScreen NSW has implemented a range of hygiene and social-distancing measures to ensure clinics and mobile screening vans are COVID-19 safe, to protect women, staff, and the wider community.”

These measures include:

  • Pre-screening questions around personal health and travel
  • Limiting the number of people in the clinic/van
  • Practising social distancing and providing hand sanitiser in waiting rooms
  • A minimal contact check-in process
  • Wearing masks
  • Additional cleaning of equipment and commonly used surfaces.
Call 13 20 50 to make an appointment today.

Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow said early detection is key to giving women the best chance of survival and reduces the likelihood of needing invasive treatment, such as mastectomy or chemotherapy.

“In 2020 alone, it’s expected that more than 6,240 women in NSW will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 973 will die from the disease,” Professor Currow said.

“While these numbers are sobering, the good news is that if detected early, women have a 98 per cent chance of survival.

“Breast screens can detect cancer as small as a grain of rice. Our research shows that women who receive a diagnosis as a result of regular breast screening are less likely to need a mastectomy. It proves that early detection is key to unlocking less invasive treatment options for patients, making it easier for them to recover, and giving them an overall better quality of life,” Professor Currow said.

Breast cancer survivor Stella Libri with her sister Melina Trimarchi.

Erskine Park resident Stella Libri received an invitation for her mammogram shortly after her 50th birthday.

Stella had no symptoms of breast cancer and no concerns about her breast health. After having her first mammogram she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was a shock being diagnosed with breast cancer.  Your life comes to a sudden stop. It was completely unexpected,” Stella said

Stella had surgery to remove the breast cancer and because her cancer was detected early she didn’t require a mastectomy.

“The cancer diagnosis and the treatment put everything in perspective,” Stella said.

“I had to remind myself that everything was going to be okay. Breast cancer is treatable, it’s manageable but this time it’s about me. It’s okay to be cared for and accept the support from your family and health professionals.”

“Early detection is the golden ticket. It only takes a few minutes and could save your life. If you love your family, your children, your lifestyle and you’re over the age of 50 it’s time to get screened.”

“I got through it and I now look forward to the future and enjoy what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.”

Stella is looking forward to welcoming her first grandchild in 2021!

The NSW Government, through the Cancer Institute NSW, is investing $62.4 million in breast cancer screening this financial year.

An appointment with BreastScreen NSW is free, takes about 20 minutes in total and no doctor’s referral is needed. In addition to 46 BreastScreen NSW clinics, BreastScreen NSW has 16 mobile vans that provide services to about 180 locations across NSW, including in rural and remote areas.

If you are aged 50 to 74 book your free mammogram today with BreastScreen NSW online at or by calling 13 20 50. 

The BreastScreen NSW service can be accessed at BCI Sunflower clinics in Sydney’s West. At select Myer stores and hospitals near you.