McGrath Foundation stresses the need for breast checks as screening decreases during COVID-19

McGrath Foundational Breast Care Nurse Katie Evans and patient Ellie May.
McGrath Foundational Breast Care Nurse Katie Evans and patient Ellie May.

COLOURFUL fundraiser 'Pink Up Your Town' is now well underway with communities across Australia turning pink to support those affected by breast cancer.

Recent COVID-19 restrictions haven't hampered the important work of McGrath Foundation's Breast Care Nurses who are continuing to aid patients from diagnosis, during treatment and beyond.

Foundation Ambassador and Director Tracy Bevan said all McGrath Breast Care Nurses have been following strict COVID-safe procedures while interacting with patients.

"Many are continuing to provide Telehealth for their patients, while others are able to meet with patients face-to-face, which can help alleviate the isolation some patients are feeling," she said, adding research has shown access to a McGrath Breast Care Nurse, within the first week of diagnosis, leads to better patient experiences and outcomes.

"Our nurses tell us that often people hear they have been diagnosed with breast cancer but then don't hear much else.

"McGrath Breast Care Nurses are there to answer questions and explain medical jargon, as well as provide crucial emotional support to both the person with breast cancer and their family."

Ms Bevan said McGrath Breast Care Nurses were able to provide free support to patients and a doctor's referral is not required.

"This is really crucial, as it means the support of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse is available to everyone with breast cancer no matter what their financial situation is."

New figures recently released by Cancer Council have shown a 37 per cent decrease in screening for breast cancer during COVID-19.

Ms Bevan said these figures could mean thousands of people are potentially missing early diagnosis.

"This data is really concerning because early detection of breast cancer while it is still small and confined to the breast provides the best chance of being effective," she said.

McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurse Sally Haley and patient Kat Locker.

McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurse Sally Haley and patient Kat Locker.

"BreastScreen has reopened so we're encouraging everyone to schedule and attend their medical appointments.

"Now is also the time to ensure you're regularly conducting self breast checks at the same time each month."

Ms Bevan said anyone who did find a lump during a self-examination should contact their GP or medical professional. "Make an appointment right away."

Ms Bevan said, although BreastScreen was up and running again, it was still important to be breast aware.

"If there is no BreastScreen or imaging service nearby, you can still conduct self breast checks at home to ensure you have sound breast health understanding.

"Means being aware of what your chest looks and feels like 'normal' so you can identify any changes or abnormalities

"The McGrath Foundation has a great guide on how to conduct a thorough breast check using three simple steps, 'Look, Feel, Learn'.

Read more:

"You can find more information on checking your breasts on the McGrath Foundation website."

Ms Bevan said the McGrath Foundation is committed to working towards the vision

of funding a McGrath Breast Care Nurse for every person going through breast cancer.

"It costs $140,000 to fund a McGrath Breast Care Nurse for a year and each nurse is funded for a minimum of three years.

"At the moment, our focus is on ensuring there is funding to support our existing 151 McGrath Breast Care Nurses, which is why campaigns like Pink Up Your Town are so important."

For more information about the McGrath Foundation and McGrath Breast Care Nurses, visit:

  • Australian Community Media is a partner with the McGrath Foundation and Pink Up Your Town.