Breast Screening Aotearoa
BreastScreen Aotearoa is New Zealand’s free national breast screening programme for women aged between 45 and 69.
Launched nationally in December 1998 this publicly funded programme offers free mammograms to eligible women aged between 45 and 69 years.
BreastScreen Aotearoa aims to reduce deaths from breast cancer by regularly screening women who have no symptoms of breast cancer. The more women who have breast screening, the more likely it is that death rates from breast cancer will be reduced.
Breast screening will tell you whether or not you have an increased chance of having breast cancer, not whether you actually have it.
Women with an increased chance of having breast cancer will be offered further testing to see if they do have breast cancer. Most women offered further testing will not have breast cancer. If breast cancer is found, you will be referred to a specialist for treatment. Treating breast cancer while it is still small gives you a better chance of successful treatment.
What is breast screening?
Breast screening is when a mammogram (breast x-ray) is performed on women with no obvious breast changes
Breast screening can find cancer early and that means you have a better chance of beating it
It can pick up tiny cancers that can't be felt
You need to have breast screening every two years as breast cancers can grow in that time and you want to find them while they are still small
Screening mammograms cannot prevent development of breast cancer, but do reduce the chance of dying from breast cancer by approximately a third.
This simple and helpful guide makes checking your breasts easy and comfortable.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a malignant area in the breast.
When it spreads into the surrounding breast tissue, it is called invasive breast cancer.
There are a number of different types of breast cancer
Most start in the milk ducts of the breasts (ductal cancers), others start in the lobules of the breast (lobular cancers)
Cancers can develop slowly over years or more quickly over months
Some breast cancers have a better chance of successful treatment than others
When the cancer spreads into the surrounding breast tissue, it is called invasive breast cancer
Breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes, which is the drainage system of the human body. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body too, such as the lungs, bones and liver
Breast cancer can also spread through the bloodstream.
The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer is uncommon in women under 50. About 70 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and about 80 percent of women who die from it are 50 years or older.
Some women are at greater risk of breast cancer because there is a history of close family members having the disease. However, most women who develop breast cancer have no relatives with the disease. Even among women who do have relatives with breast cancer, most will never develop it.
Visit the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition website for information and support for women with breast cancer.
How to do a Breast Self Check:
Please watch the following short video below which explains the importance and technique for self examination: