Nearly 41,500 more women having breast screening

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Associate Minister of Health, Hon Tariana Turia, reports that new figures show nearly 41,500 more women aged 50 to 69 have taken part in the Governments free breast cancer screening programme in the 24 months to December 2010 than in the previous period.

This increase is great news for womens health. Not only are these women giving themselves the best chance for breast cancer to be found and treated early, but this is a sign women are prioritising their health said the Associate Minister.

The percentage of Maori and Pasifika women having breast screening has had the greatest increase, with a further 5486 Maori women and 2898 Pasifika women taking part in the programme over the 24 month period to December 2010.

This is a particularly pleasing result, as Maori and Pasifika women are less likely to have breast screening, and have an increased likelihood of dying of breast cancer. These figures show this imbalance is beginning to be redressed.

Mrs Turia says the percentage of eligible women being screening in all parts of New Zealand has increased.

Breast screening is undertaken for the National Screening Unit by eight lead providers. All providers have shown an increase in the percentage of women 50 to 69 screened with an increase of nearly 10% in the Counties Manukau area, and over 7% in the Auckland area.

“There is, however, no room for complacency and there is still much more that we can do to increase awareness of the benefits of screening”.

Mrs Turia says early detection is the best protection.

Women with breast cancer that is found early have the best chance of successful treatment, and going on to live full lives, so they can be there for their whanau.

Free mammograms are available every two years through BreastScreen Aotearoa for women aged 45-69, says Mrs Turia. This free, quick and simple screening test saves lives.

For further information or to make an appointment, women can ring freephone 0800 270 200 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 270 200 end_of_the_skype_highlighting , or see the website: nsu.govt.nz.

Background Information

About 331,000 women aged 50 to 69 have been screened as part of the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme in the 24 months to December 2010. In the previous 24 month period, to December 2008, about 289,700 women were screened.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand women, and the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. BreastScreen Aotearoa checks women for signs of early breast cancer by using mammograms – the only proven way for finding breast cancers early enough to reduce the risk of dying.

Two-yearly breast screening reduces the chances of dying from breast cancer for women under 50 by about 20%, by about 30% for women between 50 and 65, and by about 45% for women aged 65-69.

Breast Screen Aotearoa aims to screen 70% of women aged 50 to 69.

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