National Best in Breast Care Conference

14 November 2019

Every other year we organise a national conference for health professionals and allied health professionals in New Zealand that are involved with the care of people with breast cancer.  This year the conference was held at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion on Friday 8th November. This was very well attended with 180 delegates coming from around the country, from as far north as Whangarei and as far south as Dunedin.

The conference was promoted amongst GPs this year and we had 15 GPs attend. Other attendees were nurses (Breast Care, Plastic Surgery, Theatre, District, Surgical, Oncology and Practice); radiation therapists, MITs (mammographers and ultra-sonographers), staff from Breast Screen Aotearoa and breast cancer support organisations as well as research staff from the Universities of Auckland & Waikato.

With local and national breast cancer specialists, general practitioners and consumers presenting, they all provided an excellent overview on current management of early and metastatic breast cancer. Topics included oncoplastic surgery, health literacy, survivorship, genetics and the Breast Screening Aotearoa programme.

For the first time we had a panel discussion on the future role of general practice in shared care which invited questions from conference attendees. We also had our first international speaker, Professor Sandie McCarthy (Professor of Nursing, University of Queensland, Brisbane) who presented on the importance of women’s wellness after cancer. Professor McCarthy has been involved in research introducing health promotion utilising digital platforms and evidence-based information on healthy lifestyles.

Candy Atkinson (Breast Screen Midland Data Manager) was the final speaker of the day and presented on cultural considerations for working with Māori wāhine.  She left an impact on us all, with one delegate commenting that, “Candy as final speaker was great, very moving, and reminded us that we are all working together for the benefit of women”.

The generous sponsorship we received to manage conference logistics and costs enabled us to raise $12,000 for our clinical trials and research projects.