A former Perth doctor at a WA breast imaging clinic has been found to have misled women about the effectiveness of their alternative breast check techniques.
A Federal Court judge this afternoon ruled that the Breast Check clinic, which had used thermal imaging devices or measured electrical properties of tissue to check for breast cancer, had breached trade practices and consumer laws through the publication of two pamphlets.
It was found that the clinic, along with its director Alexandra Boyd, had been misleading to clients by suggesting the devices had benefits and uses that they did not have, including that it could be used as a substitute for mammograms.
During the trial, a lawyer representing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission opened the watchdog's case by saying that the clinic's pamphlets had claimed the techniques were safe, non-invasive, radiation free, and suitable for all ages and that they "suggested" the techniques could be used instead of a mammogram to check for breast cancer.
The lawyer had argued that there was no medical or scientific evidence the devices could be used as a substitute for mammograms which the court was told were the "gold standard for breast imaging" to detect cancer.
Ms Boyd has previously made news after a inquest in 2011 into the deaths of five cancer patients who died after radical treatment at her western suburbs home.
She was declared bankrupt and deregistered as a doctor in 2011.
A hearing will be held in May to determine penalties regarding this afternoon's ruling.
The Federal Court found that Ms Boyd was liable as an accessory to the misleading and deceptive conduct because she was “knowingly concerned in or involved” in what it did.
The ACCC brought the action against the clinic and Ms Boyd after being alerted to the issue by Cancer Council.
Cancer Council WA this afternoon said the case should send a very strong signal to any any businesses making similar claims that there was high standard of evidence required to back up such claims.
Cancer Council Director of Education and Research, Terry Slevin, said CCWA believed the claims being made in the pamphlets were not based on sound scientific evidence.
“People should be able to believe the health information and claims made by service providers, and we believed the claims made by these companies did not have a sound basis in scientific evidence,” Mr Slevin said.
“Specifically, we believe very close scrutiny is justified of any company offering thermography or Multifrequency Electrical Impedance Mammograph (MEM device) and claiming these devices are legitimate forms of breast cancer screening,” Mr Slevin said.
“On the strength of this case, we believe any business making these claims using these technologies serving as breast cancer screening devices should cease doing so immediately.
“We believe the ramifications of this case will be of benefit to the health of Australians with regard to cancer services and beyond,” Mr Slevin said.