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Cancer support groups lobbying for breast unit

Cancer support groups have joined forces to lobby for an accredited breast unit at Mater Dei Hospital, launching a petition on the occasion of World Cancer Day last weekend.

EU guidelines stipulate that such a unit should be in place by 2016 and the Action for Breast Cancer Foundation and the Breast Care Support Group Europa Donna Malta are demanding “immediate action to ensure the existing specialised breast care team be given the facilities to start building the unit, ensuring it is up and running before then”.

They are requesting that the Health Minister, supported by the government, initiates the process for the unit to be available to breast cancer sufferers soon.

Between October 2009 and last month, the uptake of the national breast screening programme was 56.6 per cent (15,000 of the 26,500 invited), with 108 results being malignant.

“These malignancies are referred to the Surgical Outpatients Department at Mater Dei, adding to the already extremely busy clinic. We are, therefore, requesting the mandatory breast unit, without having to wait until 2016 as stipulated by the EU resolution on breast cancer,” the groups said.

The petition, launched on Saturday, is envisaged to garner “a lot of public support” through thousands of signatures. It will be presented in Parliament through an MP. It calls for breast cancer patients to be treated in an accredited breast unit that has all the necessary facilities and an adequate area that can act as a one-stop shop.

Specialists within the unit would include breast surgeons, oncologists and plastic surgeons, a breast radiologist and pathologist, data managers, a psychological support specialist, breast care nurses and other patient support staff.

It will also include a facility for the fitting of prostheses.

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