Future Extension To Breast Screening Not Ruled Out

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English said the Government had not ruled out the possibility of extending the breast screening programme to a wider age group of women at some stage in the future.

"At this stage we are focussing on the women in the highest risk age group where a national screening programme will have the biggest impact. Getting this programme in place is a huge achievement and a significant step towards the Government's goal of reducing deaths from breast cancer.

"The possibility of extending the scheme at some stage has not been ruled out, however. If there was good evidence in future that it would be worthwhile extending the age group of women covered, then that would be considered," he said.

Mr English launched the Hamilton breast screening programme, BreastScreen Midland, at Health Waikato this morning as part of the official launch of the national screening programme, BreastScreen Aotearoa.

"The latest health outcome statistics to be released shortly by the Ministry of Health show that the death rate from breast cancer has dropped from 105 per 100,000 women in 1991 to 80 per 100,000. The Government's goal is to get that down to 64 deaths per 100,000 women by 2005. This national screening programme will play an important part in reaching, or even possibly exceeding, that goal.

"It has taken longer than hoped to get it started, but it was important that it was done properly. As a rural MP I am especially pleased that there will be mobile units going to smaller centres and rural towns. Women in rural areas can either wait for the mobile unit's visit or make a screening appointment at a one of the main centres," said Mr English.