Catch the boob bus

AT JUST 40 years old, Swan Hill resident Megan Probyn did not expect a call back after her first mammogram.

Having only just reached the age of eligibility for screening and not having noticed any changes in her breasts, Ms Probyn made an appointment with the BreastScreen Victoria mobile service simply to show her support.

"[A friend] said to me, 'go and be a number, because if you don't use these services, we will lose them'," Ms Probyn said.

"I didn't think I needed to go."

A week after her appointment, she was called back for a second check, and was later diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) — a type of non-invasive breast cancer where cancerous cells are found in the milk ducts of the breast.

Although it is not classified as cancer in the traditional sense, women with DCIS are nearly four times more likely to develop invasive breast cancer.

She was told that if it had gone unchecked she would have been lucky to see out two more years.

"I was 40. I had no idea I had any issues, and when I was diagnosed, I still couldn't find it — I couldn't feel anything," Ms Probyn said.

"Early detection for me meant I got to keep my breast.

"I've got two daughters, a husband, I'm not ready to go anywhere yet."

She underwent radiation therapy, and was given the all clear in September 2013, but still attends regular check-ups.

This experience has lead her to advocate the importance of the service to other women.

BreastScreen Victoria is aiming to see 2050 women through the doors of the conspicuous pink van parked in Swan Hill near the big cod.

Since arriving on March 31, 429 women have visited the service.

BreastScreen Victoria CEO Vicki Pridmore said all women inside the target age group of 50 to 74 years should make an appointment.

She said research done a couple of years ago showed the Swan Hill site had strong numbers of attendees, and meant the service would continue to return every two years.

"We find that in rural areas [attendance] is stronger, I think in part this is because the van is huge and pink — it's an advertisement in itself — and partly because it comes and goes so women can't put it off. Once it goes, it doesn't come back for two years," Ms Pridmore said.

Tests are free and offered to women aged 40 and over — although the main target group is women aged 50 to 74, as this age group is the most at risk of developing breast cancer.

To make an appointment head to www.breastscreen.org.au or call 13 20 50.

Following the BreastScreen mobile van's stop in Swan Hill, which finishes on June 27, it will move on to Warracknabeal.

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