About the Australasian Society of Breast Physicians (ASBP)

The evolution of breast physicians

The concept of multidisciplinary diagnostic and management teams is now common in many areas of medicine. Breast diagnosticians were among the first to embrace this collaborative approach in Australia, with the establishment of the Sydney Breast Clinic in 1978, followed by the Wesley Breast Clinic in Brisbane in 1982. In these clinics, women with breast symptoms were able to have all their clinical, imaging and interventional diagnostic procedures in one visit, at one location – a vast improvement on the multi-visit fragmented approach otherwise required.

From their inception, in addition to fostering the skills of surgeons and radiologists in the new concept of multidisciplinary diagnosis, these clinics recognised the need for additional clinicians with the same diagnostic expertise, but with additional skills to assist in providing advice and management particularly for the majority of women with symptoms of benign disease where surgery was not needed, and where hormonal advice might be useful. At that time these additional doctors mainly come from general practice backgrounds with additional special interests in women’s health matters. These doctors subsequently became known as breast physicians.

Over time, the multidisciplinary breast team has further evolved to include breast nurses, geneticists and oncologists. However, it is the breast physicians who incorporate and extend the traditional surgical and radiological disciplines, and help the team function in an interactive and dynamic manner.

In the 1990s, with the institution of publicly funded breast cancer screening in Australia and New Zealand, breast physicians were included in several jurisdictions, and today are central to the operation and management of BreastScreen NSW, BreastScreen Queensland and BreastScreen Aotearoa.

The evident benefits to patients of multidisciplinary consultation has subsequently been widely extended to other areas of medicine.

About the Australasian Society of Breast Physicians

The Australasian Society of Breast Physicians was formed in June 1990 wth four foundation members – two from Sydney Breast Clinic and two from the Wesley Breast Clinic. By 1992, it’s structure and first Constitution was in place; doctors who had completed a minimum of six years’ full-time (or FTE) training and experience in a dedicated multidisciplinary diagnostic breast clinic were eligible for inclusion as Foundation Fellows.

 

From these early beginnings, the Society has developed a structured training and examination process in line with those of recognised specialist colleges, and expanded to include members across Australia and New Zealand, thus leading to our formal name change in 1998 to the Australasian Society of Breast Physicians.

What are the current objectives of the Society?

Breast Medicine has yet to be formally recognised as a specialised discipline in Australia, but this is one of the goals of our Society. The Society advocates that the descriptor “breast physician” should be reserved for medical practitioners who have undergone a formal training and accreditation program leading to Fellowship of the ASBP, and who maintain their membership status with the ASBP. The ASBP advises members who do not hold a Fellowship to refer to themselves as “breast clinicians”, or as “breast physician registrars” for those who are in training.

Full details of the 5-year training program for Fellowship of the ASBP are available on the website.

Supporting our Society

The ASBP welcomes your input. Whether you are a current member, thinking of becoming a member, or you are someone working in the area of breast diagnosis and treatment, we value your ideas.

Please contact any of the members of the Executive and let us know your thoughts on any issues related to Breast Physicians.