Push to increase free breast cancer screening age

  • 04/05/2016
Push to increase free breast cancer screening age

A petition to extend free breast screening for women between 70 and 74 has reached Parliament, with campaigners saying they're more at risk than those who currently receive it.

The screening programme is currently free for women aged between 45 and 69.

The 10,000-signature strong New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation (NZBF) petition was presented this morning at a Pink Ribbon fundraising and awareness breakfast held in Parliament's Banquet Hall.

It was presented to Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, whose mother Laurell survived breast cancer, to be tabled in the House this afternoon.

NZBF chief executive Evangelina Henderson says early detection is still the best way to fight off breast cancer, and recent medical evidence supports extending continued screening until after the age of 70.

"We appeal to the Government to do the right thing and extend the free breast screening programme to women up to the age of 74," she says.

Many women believe the risk of breast cancer is low at ages outside of the free breast screening programme, "but the opposite is true", NZBF says.

Push to increase free breast cancer screening age


A woman's risk of breast cancer is higher in her 70s than at 50.

The cost -- between $150 and $200 -- can also be prohibitive for those outside the free screening age.

"Free screening will not only support the message to women to continue to be breast-aware past the age of 70, but will ensure they have access to the service and continue to be screened," Ms Henderson says.

"Not only will this save more lives through early detection, but the cost to the health system will be reduced by having less patients needing treatment and hospitalisation."

NZBF recommends yearly mammograms between the ages of 40-49, and every two years from the age of 50.

Ms Henderson says the petition only equates to two mammograms per women above the current screening programme.