This subsidy programme was initiated by the MMA Foundation Radiology Fund because some people (predominantly women) may have difficulty affording this examination outside the government hospitals. In addition, there was a need to reach some women who had never even heard of this examination. However, they had to “qualify” for the programme dependent on criteria as set out by the Breast Cancer Awareness Committee. The criteria were necessary because of limited funds and also because the mammogram is most suitable for women older than 40 years and in high-risk groups, preferably from a lower income group. Men were not excluded if their doctor was suspicious of their breast symptoms/signs.
We are most appreciative of the sizeable donations from Johnson & Johnson (RM100,000.00) as well as Meditel Electronics (RM30,000.00) to the MMA Foundation Radiology Fund. This enabled the total number of people benefiting from the programme to double to about 1500!! The final figures are not available as yet, as we are still awaiting data from each centre. Despite being allocated patients by appointments or other methods as in Kota Bharu, we can only ascertain the final number done after receiving the documentation. This is mainly because not all who were given appointments turned up for their mammograms and some waiting list patients were done as well in their place.
The MMA Foundation Radiology Fund provided the subsidy for the participants of the Mammogram Subsidy Programme as further mammographic views, additional ultrasound and where necessary; basic counseling and referrals were all packaged into their “mammogram”. This was where the Mammography Service Providers did their part in ensuring the patient did not have to pay a sen more despite the providers only receiving just a fixed subsidy per patient.
This entailed special arrangements because mammography has to be performed by qualified and properly trained radiographers in addition to radiologists. As the government hospitals are usually very packed with their “normal appointment list” and urgent mammograms, we sought the cooperation of some private mammography providers including the National Cancer Society of Malaysia for assistance in the provision of this service.
The mammogram is not as simple and definitely nowhere as quick as a basic chest radiograph (CXR). Depending on the patient’s degree of cooperation, the total process can take up to 10-15 minutes, inclusive of interviewing the patient. Please note, the patient’s breasts are not compressed for 10-15 minutes. The compression is only for a few seconds! This does not include the film processing and interpretation time by the radiologist nor the additional mammographic views or ultrasound that may be necessary. Therefore inclusive of registration of the patient and explanation of the result, the total turnaround time could be up to half an hour. This does not include waiting time for the patient’s turn. No doubt, depending on which centre they were in, mammography participants had to wait for their turn in the centres, and some probably had to wait longer than others depending on the patient load for the day. We thank them for their patience! J
We wish to thank all the following mammography providers for their special efforts during the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign:
Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Hospital Kota Baru, Kelantan
Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan
University Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur
National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Jalan
Megah Medical Specialists Group Sdn Bhd
Pantai Medical Centre, Jalan Pantai, Kuala Lumpur
We hope more centres will be able to volunteer their services if the Subsidy Programme is to be a regular feature. Mammography centres/Hospitals are welcome to contact the Webeditor to register their interest in joining such a programme.
In the Klang Valley, the online website registration as well as the telephone registrations were coordinated by the Central Hotline. The National Cancer Society offered their services for the Hotline. Initially there were few calls after the official launch on the 4th October but soon, the Hotline was overwhelmed and the online registration also had to close by the 25th October because the total number allocated for the programme had been achieved. We had some patients on the waiting list, in case there were cancellations or “drop outs” (those who just did not turn up for their appointment).
In Kelantan, the patients for the subsidised mammogram were registered from those attending their scheduled activities, workshops and publicity drives in Tumpat and Kubang Kerian.