Govt will deliver on expanded breast screening

The coalition Government has made the first steps in delivering on its promise to  extend free breast screening to women aged 70-74, Health Minister Shane Reti says.

“As part of the 100 day plan, the Government has now met with officials and discussed what is needed in order for the screening to be extended,” Dr Reti says.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst New Zealand women, and that’s why the Government prioritised this crucial initiative in our 100-day plan.

“It’s vitally important to all affected women and their families that we detect more breast cancer early.

“Overall, our extension means women will be eligible for an average of two to three extra mammograms once the programme is fully implemented – and means around 120,000 additional women will be eligible for screening every two years. 

“Catching more cancers early means better treatment outcomes, and we anticipate an additional 22 lives could be saved every year. 

“While we want to move as swiftly as possible, we need to allow the health system to prepare for the roughly 60,000 additional women eligible each year. 

“There’s a lot to be done in terms of preparation, both human and capital infrastructure.   As well as planning for the expansion of existing screening services, Health New Zealand will need to plan for the cancer treatment services required to support the additional women diagnosed with breast cancer each year. 

“We know screening works - women who participate in the existing programme are 34 per cent less likely to die from breast cancer.

“Raising the breast cancer screening age will benefit all women including Māori and Pacific peoples who have particularly high rates,” Dr Reti says.