Aussie store helps women combine shopping, mammograms

Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:19am EST
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - An Australian department store is giving busy women the chance to turn retail therapy into a real health boost by offering free inhouse mammograms.

Retail giant Myer has teamed up with the New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute (BCI) to set up breast clinics in the lingerie department, hoping to make what can be a nerve-racking experience more comfortable and accessible to more women.

About 35 women are diagnosed with breast cancer daily in Australia, a country where the disease affects more than 13,000 females a year.

BCI's Sunflower Clinics hope to offer women the chance to combine a screening with a bit of shopping or while meeting friends, and the mammograms are transmitted within seconds to the BCI center and read by doctors.

"One of the unique parts of this is it's totally digital. By the time the woman gets to the escalator in the store, the scan is back at the hospital to be read by two doctors," John Boyages, BCI's executive director, told Reuters. At least 200 female shoppers are expected to be screened weekly using the latest digital technology, and Boyages said he expected to find at least one cancer case among these women.

"It's not just about having a mammogram in a retail unit. It's connecting all the bits together that no one has been able to achieve before," he added.

Myer spokesman Mitch Catlin said two-third of the store's customers are women, as well as 80 percent of their staff, making the issue very relevant for shoppers.

"This sort of facility is a world-first it's something that hasn't been done before, he told Reuters.

According to medical statistics, 75 percent of breast cancers develop in women aged over 50 years.

(Editing by Miral Fahmyt)