A new breast health clinic at Macquarie University Hospital may just be revolutionising the way women can access specialist treatment.
The Integrated Breast Health Clinic, the first of its kind in Australia, is a unique one-stop shop where women can access GPs, specialists and surgeons under one roof. This includes lifelong care for women that have undergone breast augmentation and require a specialist– like Marian; one of the clinic’s inaugural patients.
The 59-year-old had her implants over 20 years ago with no adverse consequences, until she began experiencing pain and discovered her right implant had ruptured and was leaking. According to Marian, her plastic surgeon advised “I can replace your implants and give you these instead and make you look 18 again.” Marian was understandably very nervous that her surgeon seemed completely unconcerned with her health, and as a result, sought out the Integrated Breast Health Clinic instead.
“From the beginning, the doctor’s approach was very calm and about focusing on my health and removing the implants,” she said. “I didn’t have the implants replaced and now I have nothing to worry about. I was concerned I might have huge scars but my breasts look fantastic. I’m feeling really well.”
Director of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery at the Australian School of Advanced Medicine at Macquarie University, Professor Anand Deva, is an advocate for raising awareness around the risks associated with breast implants and potential links to cancer, and says that providing accessible lifetime assessments for women with implants is a top priority for the clinic.
“Having lifetime follow up for people with implants is absolutely crucial,” says Professor Deva. “So many things can go wrong that will affect women’s health. At the clinic, we are taking a novel approach to breast health, transforming the current fragmented and increasingly costly model of healthcare in Australia into a new integrated model, where the focus is all about providing the most efficient service to the patient.”
He says that, when it comes to other public and private providers that focus on breast cancer, the Integrated Breast Health Clinic’s key point of difference is “we are taking a holistic approach to women’s ongoing breast health in general; breastfeeding, implants and breast disease, as well as cancer.”
The team consists of three physicians, a surgeon and a McGrath Breast Care Nurse specialising in cancer support, and they will work alongside plastic and reconstructive surgeons, including Professor Deva, when required.
Though the clinic is private, most patients are able to utilise services at no cost or for a nominal free, under the MQ Health Access Program. Women won’t have to schedule in a separate referral visit either, with MRI, ultrasound, pathology and other diagnostic services already available on site.