As we experience the return of many freedoms across Victoria, many of us are busily scheduling dining out, hair and other appointments, breast cancer surgeons are urging women to include a breast check in their to do list, as we come out of lockdown.

Mr Su-Wen Loh is director of the Melbourne Breast Unit, based at Epworth Freemasons. He says that many GPs have reported a significant drop in the number of women making appointments with a breast symptom. These symptoms can be crucial and many may be a percussor to potential breast cancer.

“We have seen two distinct reasons that women have struggled with their regular screening or follow up appointments,” Mr Loh said.

“Before vaccinations were rolled out, elderly women were largely staying home as they were reluctant to go out, or they relied on others for transport to appointments and that wasn’t possible.”

“For younger women, many didn’t get to check-ups as they were juggling working from home and/or supervising remote learning. That created limitations”

Mr Loh said he has already seen women diagnosed later than they might have been, after putting off appointments.

“In my practice alone, I have had a handful of women who put off their routine reviews during the pandemic and they have ended up with a diagnosis. We then had to play catch up with their treatments.”

“While detection was delayed, it’s too early to know if that will impact their long-term outcome. What we do know is that early detection does save lives and makes treatment more straightforward.” Mr Loh said.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Make sure you know what to look out for and how to self-check. Download our checklist to learn more.

If you have any concerns, you can get same-day answers, without needing a referral, at the Breast Clinic at Epworth Freemasons.