Mobile breast cancer screening unit provides women with mammograms and breast ultrasound

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A mobile breast cancer screening unit at George in the Southern Cape is providing women with the opportunity to go for a mammogram and breast ultrasound in a safe and convenient, out-of-hospital environment.

The unit, nicknamed “Dolly”, is the only one of its kind in South Africa. It is operated by an all-female staff.

One in every 25 women is likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Radiologist Dr. Nikoli van Zyl says all women should have regular self-examinations and go for screening if they find any abnormalities.

She says it is very important that women over the age of 40 go for yearly screenings. Dr. Van Zyl says they are encouraging early detection through their Screen Her- Save Her campaign.

“You diagnose cancer, preferably even before the patient is aware of a lump. The earlier you detect it, the more treatment options you have and the better the outcome, the end for the patient. That’s why we want to push the mammography and ultrasound awareness in the community. It’s not for women who feel a lump, not only for women who have a family history of breast cancer, it’s for every single woman above the age of 40.”

State-of-the-art equipment and highly specialised personnel offer patients fast and efficient radiology services. One of the patients, Annelize Richards, says she will definitely recommend the service provided.

“My experience has been great. The ladies are so professional and so friendly. With us ladies, this type of examination is so uncomfortable, but they make you feel at ease. So, the moment they start with you – their friendliness – you feel at ease and forget you had any discomfort.”

But the services don’t stop at the mobile unit. The staff and ambassadors go the extra mile to support and guide patients who have tested positive.

Dr. Van Zyl says the Screen-Her-Save-Her Facebook group is also available to patients and their family members.

“We have patients who have had cancer, who have recently gone through this whole process, who are available for newly-diagnosed patients to just speak to them and share their experience, because you can’t tell someone what it’s like unless you’ve been through it.”

The mobile unit will be visiting more towns in the region over the next couple of months, including George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Oudtshoorn, and Riversdale.