KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 – Tawau Hospital, the only tertiary hospital in the east coast of Sabah, has opened up a mammography suite equipped with a mammogram machine for early breast cancer detection.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the mammogram machine has a 3D tomosynthesis function and is capable of conducting a biopsy.
Last November, Tawau Hospital received funding to purchase one unit of a full field digital mammography. A mammography is an X-ray examination of the breast to detect early breast cancer.
“It has high specifications and is equivalent to high-tech mammogram machines that are used in major specialist hospitals like Kuala Lumpur Hospital and Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital,” MOH said in a statement Monday.
MOH noted that Tawau Hospital is also a referral centre for breast cancer cases from other district hospitals in Kunak, Semporna, as well as private medical clinics.
Last year, 86 breast cancer patients received treatment at Tawau Hospital, while 354 patients got a breast ultrasound (a two-fold reduction due to the Covid-19 pandemic).
MOH estimated a reduction of 10 to 30 breast cancer patients a month who need to be referred from Tawau Hospital’s surgical department to private clinics or Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu for screening and surveillance.
“This number does not include patients referred from other districts and nearby private clinics.”
Tawau Hospital’s mammogram project is also expected to reduce waiting time for patients to get a mammogram appointment.
Early diagnosis will be available for women with a family history of breast cancer and women suspected of having cancer after undergoing an ultrasound examination and a physical exam by a medical officer or a specialist surgeon.
With a mammogram machine at Tawau Hospital, patients will also save non-medical costs like travel, accommodation, and meals from previously needing to travel from Tawau to Queen Elizabeth Hospital or a private hospital in the state capital of Kota Kinabalu.