Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women affecting up to 1 in 7 women over their lifetime. The purpose of the screening programme is to:
To screen women who are well with no symptoms of breast lumps or changes, a screening mammogram is done. This is a low-dose x-ray of your breast tissue to look for any early signs of breast cancer.
In New Zealand, you can have a free screening mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Aotearoa if you:
If you meet the criteria above and have had breast cancer, you can re-enter BreastScreen Aotearoa five years from when your cancer was found.
*To find out who is eligible for publicly funded (free or subsidised) personal health and disability services in New Zealand, visit the Ministry of Health website
Screening does not stop you getting breast cancer but it does reduce your chance of dying from it.
The chance of a New Zealand woman getting and dying from breast cancer each year is shown in the table below. Because there are effective treatments available for breast cancer, most women who get breast cancer do not die from it.
For every 10,000 women
The chance of developing breast cancer is
The chance of dying from breast cancer each year without screening is
The chance of dying from breast cancer each year with screening is
Source: NZHIS; data are averages for 1997-2002 (incidence) and 1996-2000 (mortality).
A mammogram is a breast x-ray. It can show changes and abnormalities in your breasts before anything can be seen or felt.
A mammogram is the best available test to detect small cancers at an early stage when there is a very good chance of successful treatment.
Read more about mammograms
The programme offers free screening mammograms to all women aged 45 to 69 who have no symptoms of breast cancer. Follow-up assessment is also free.
The programme will send your results to you within two weeks of having your mammogram. If you have had mammograms elsewhere, BreastScreen Aotearoa needs to see these to compare the results with your current mammogram.
If you notice any breast symptoms (changes that are not normal for you), see your doctor as soon as possible. Do not wait for your mammogram to have this problem checked.
Possible signs of breast cancer are:
To register with BreastScreen Aotearoa, you can:
Breast screening New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation BreastScreen Aotearoa National Screening UnitMana Wahine - Kokiri Marae Breast Screening Services, WellingtonInformed Consent and your rights BreastScreen Aotearoa