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About Us

Welcome to the website of the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute.

This site is about empowering you and helping you to make informed decisions about the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

This site will constantly be changing to keep up with the latest research findings and treatment options for clinicians, health professionals, patients and their families.

Our site contains information on breast health, screening information, research, personal experiences, special events and a feedback section so that you can inform us what you like about the site and what information you would like included.

The Westmead Breast Cancer Institute is here to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

VISION - Westmead Breast Cancer Institute

Supporting Women with Breast Cancer Today and Every Day

Providing screening, diagnosis, treatment and care by expert teams

With world-class research, education and innovation

Engaging the help of our community and supporters

To shine a Ray of Hope

The Westmead Breast Cancer Institute

The Westmead Breast Cancer Institute is committed to delivering the best possible information, advice, treatment and care to patients with breast cancer. We achieve this through five programs:

BreastScreen NSW Sydney West—reducing the number of deaths from breast cancer though early detection, the BreastScreen program is available at several locations across western Sydney.

Clinical Care—bringing together all medical and allied health specialties, our multidisciplinary treatment model gives breast cancer patients and their families the most comprehensive care and support.

Research—focusing on best-practice risk assessment, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and survivorship, through innovative projects and collaborations.

Education—providing valuable information to patients with breast cancer, their families and the community, and also to health professionals to help them deliver the best possible care.

Ray of Hope—engaging the help of our community and supporters through fundraising initiatives that enable us to continue our work and shine a ray of hope.Supporting Women with Breast Cancer Today and Every Day

The Westmead Breast Centre

Since the inception of the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute (BCI) in 1995 (formerly the NSW Breast Cancer Institute), our priority has been to realise the vision that is the Westmead Breast Centre. The Westmead Breast Centre, located within Westmead Hospital was officially opened on December 12, 2003.

The new centre provides a broad range of treatment clinics including multidisciplinary breast cancer care, family history, plastic surgery, benign disease, metastatic breast cancer, surgical, radiotherapy, new patient and follow-up clinics.

Since 2004, the Breast Assessment Clinic has been be operational, with ‘one stop shop’ mammography, ultrasound and pathology services, including BreastScreen NSW Sydeny West's assessment clinics.

We focus on developing and evaluating new technologies and equipment through our new imaging research program. An important aspect of this program is the improved delivery of breast cancer diagnostic services in rural and remote areas.

The Breast Centre and associated facilities have been specifically designed to accommodate the needs of a “multi-disciplinary team” approach to health care. All patients are seen by a team of doctors, before and after their surgery by a team of surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, breast care nurses and support staff.

About Us

The Centre also provides support services for ongoing care for patients and their families, including education, lymphoedema, counselling, yoga and the Mates group for partners.

The need for a multidisciplinary, patient-focused approach for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer was the foundation of our vision. The BCI supports our goals through three programs— research, education and clinical care. Every week, specialists treating a patient meet to develop an individual agreed care plan after input from the patient. Systems are put in place to support both doctor and the patient.

 

New technology

The Westmead Breast Cancer Institute team is one of the leading providers of the new sentinel node technique where only the first draining gland is taken from the arm pit.

The perometer at Westmead hospital is the first in Western Sydney and is one of only four in Australia. It is anticipated that all newly-diagnosed women with breast cancer treated at Westmead will be able to have pre- and post- surgery Perometry measurements so that any changes in arm size can be identified and treated.

The perometer is used by occupational therapists working in the Westmead Breast Centre and lymphoedema clinic. It uses infra-red light beams to measure limb circumferences and calculates limb volumes after breast and axillary lymph node surgery. These measurements assist therapists to diagnose the early onset of lymphoedema and are being used in determining the effectiveness and ongoing maintenance of lymphoedema treatment.

Sentinel Node Research

One of the clinical trials being conducted as part of the BCI Research Program is to determine whether sentinel node biopsy can safely replace the more invasive removal of lymph glands from the armpit. The procedure uses a sentinel node gamma probe to detect radioactivity which has been injected into the cancer site.

It is hoped that this procedure will have less side effects in addition to the benefits of a shorter stay in hospital, smaller scars and quicker recovery times.

altA world first!

The BCI has the first second-generation Digital Mammography System in the world. Costing more than $600,000, this state-of-the-art equipment, one of the first of its type in the world, provides computer assistance through 3-dimensional imaging for the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Digital imaging also greatly assists in supporting clinicians in rural and remote locations.

In 2009, another world first—our first breast screening Sunflower Clinic in Myer Parramatta. We have now build 8 units - four in public hospitalis in the west of Sydney and four in Myer stores. If you are aged 50-69 call 132050 or our office number on 98433288 to make an appointment.

Training the specialists of the future

The Westmead Breast Cancer Institute has trained over 30 pecialists through fellowships in surgery, oncology and radiology.

Treatment Protocols

In order to translate the breast cancer treatment guidelines (approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council—NHMRC) into changed practice, the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute has developed and published agreed Protocols, which will serve as a model for other breast centres being established in major teaching hospitals. They are used widely both in NSW and in other states. The third edition is being developed for release in late 2011.

The Protocols are intended for use by specialists and trainees, and will be available on request to general practitioners. The Protocols are designed to provide information to assist decision-making and are based on the best information available at the time of publication.

Patient information brochures

The Westmead Breast Cancer Institute is continualy producing new patient information brochures about all aspects of breast cancer. Some of our new brochures include Menopause, Sentinel Node Biopsy, Bone Metastases and Managing Your risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer. All of our brochures are available online.

Breast Cancer Treatment & Services Directory

The Breast Cancer Treatment & Services Directory is currently under review.

In October, 2003, the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir AC, launched the e-Directory of breast cancer treatment and services—the world wide web version of the directory prepared by the BCI in partnership with the Breast Cancer Action Group NSW. The e-Directory was developed as part of ‘Strengthening support for rural women with breast cancer’, a joint Commonwealth–State initiative coordinated in NSW by the BCI.

Visitors to the e-Directory site can search the details of more than 150 breast cancer specialists by name, location or specialty, and access information about the breast cancer journey. A key feature of the e-Directory is that specialists can update their details and new specialists can list their details, on line, keeping the information current.

Funds generously donated to the BCI enabled the distribution of the printed version of the directory to all NSW general practitioners, public libraries, women’s health centres and BreastScreen services.

"I am writing to thank you for all your compassion and time last Wednesday morning. I very much appreciate the fact that you granted me my human right to feel pretty emotional, and that throughout the whole time you allowed preservation of my dignity." Patient quote