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PM Launches First Breast Screening Mobile Unit



The Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, launched the first of six regional breast screening mobile units at a ceremony in Marton today.

The first mobile unit is operated by BreastScreen Coast to Coast, a service run by MidCentral Ltd, and Marton is its first stop on a schedule that will see it operating across a wide geographical area in the Central North Island, from Hawera in the west to Ruatoria in the east.

BreastScreen Coast to Coast is one of the six lead providers for BreastScreen Aotearoa, the National Breast Screening Programme. The Programme is funded and co-ordinated by the Health Funding Authority and aims to reduce deaths from breast cancer by detecting it at an early stage.

The Programme provides free two-yearly mammograms to all women in New Zealand aged between 50 and 64 who do not have signs of breast cancer.

Since December last year, the programme has been provided from fixed sites around New Zealand and with the advent of the mobile units will now be available to women in rural areas as well.

A national publicity campaign has been launched this week to encourage women in the target age group to register for the screening programme by calling the freephone number 0800 270 200.

Once registered, women will receive an appointment for a mammogram. If breast cancer is not detected, women will then receive routine appointments for further screening every two years. The small number of women who are found to have abnormalities on their mammograms will be recalled for further tests within the Programme.

MidCentral Health chief executive Margot Mains said that the mobile unit would be an important part of BreastScreen Coast to Coast's activities, given the large geographical area that the service had to cover.

Following its visit to Marton it will travel to Gisborne and will also visit Wairoa and Dannevirke before the end of the year.



Incidence of breast cancer Almost 10% of NZ women will develop breast cancer at some stage in their lives (90% won't). About 1600 women develop breast cancer each year; about 580 will die from it each year. Breast cancer is relatively uncommon in women under 40. About 75% of women who develop breast cancer are over 50 years; 84% of those who die from it are over 50 years of age. At present there is little that can be done to stop breast cancer occurring. Breast screening Breast screening (mammography) can detect breast cancer but can't prevent it. Breast screening has been proven to benefit women over 50 years. Its effectiveness is less clear for women under 40 for a variety of reasons; for example, mammograms are more difficult to read and the disease can be more aggressive. Routine screening of women 50-64 years old should take place every two years. Breast Screen Aotearoa (BSA) BSA is a programme initiated by the Government to reduce deaths from breast cancer by detecting it at a very early stage, before a woman would notice a lump, and thus enabling more effective treatment. The programme is free to all women in NZ between 50 and 64 who do not have symptoms or signs of breast cancer. The screening is carried out by six Lead Providers (LPs) around New Zealand, who are required to meet stringent quality standards. Under the programme, women register with their LP and will receive an appointment for a screening - the screening may not take place immediately. At this stage the programme is not free to women 65 and older; the age range for the programme will be reviewed at a later stage. The programme is being publicised through an advertising and public relations campaign (launched 1 August) which will feature on TV, radio and in the community newspaper media over the next 12 months.





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