Disabled Women More Likely To Be Affected By Breast Cancer7 Sep 2011
Did you know that breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers that affect Australian women? It accounts for 27% of all cancer diagnosis amongst females living in Australia.
In Australia, it is recommended that a woman who has no history of breast cancer in her family, and is not experiencing any unusual symptoms, should have her first mammogram at the age of 50. It is also suggested to have follow-up mammograms every two years. However, the breast screening process is available, free of charge, to woman aged 40 and up, if requested.
Breast screening is strongly advised, as it increases the chance of picking up a small tumour early, before it shows symptoms and becomes untreatable, which boosts the survival rate for everyone.
What happens if you’re in a wheelchair though? A US study, conducted earlier this year has shown that a woman, who uses a wheelchair, is less likely to have regular mammograms than an able bodied woman. This is due to a range of different factors.
These factors include, mobility issues: not being able to get to a breast screening centre, access issues: not being able to navigate around the small space where the breast exam is conducted, or being able to get into the change rooms or waiting area, radiographer issues: to conduct an adequate breast exam on a wheelchair user, there may need to be extra time allowances, or two radiographers to assist, therefore, the centre where the breast examination is going to be performed, needs to ensure their staff are sensitive to such needs, and trained on how to assist wheelchair bound patients. The end results of the scan could also be compromised, as it could be more difficult for the radiographer to conduct the exam correctly, therefore it may not be as thorough, and the early signs of developing cancer cells could be missed.
In Australia, you can call the mammogram helpline on – 13 20 50, where they will be able to recommend the most accessible and equipped examination centre for you to attend, to ensure you are not missing out on your regular breast screening tests. They may even be able to provide transport, to those who cannot get to an appropriate centre.
An American disability
organisation called Independence Care System (ICS), have rallied together, to ensure that all physically disabled
women who have difficulties accessing such vital cancer screening processes, are able to, with ease.
Since the launching of ICS’s Breast Cancer Screening Project for women with physical disabilities
in 2008, it has helped many women access mammograms, including 42 women in the first two years. They have also established partnerships with three prestigious breast screening centres, which can assist members of ICS in the US.
If you’d like to know more about the research carried out by ICS, and its results, please click here: http://www.icsny.org/sitemanagement/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/ICS-BC-Project-Report-Press-Release-4-12-11.pdf