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More PI women being screened for breast cancer

Hon Steve Chadwick
Associate Minister of Health
Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban
Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

22 July 2008 Media Statement

More PI women being screened for breast cancer

Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick and Pacific Island Affairs Minister Luamanuvao Winnie Laban today welcomed news that the numbers of Pacific women receiving free mammograms has significantly increased.

“Over the past two years nearly 1900 more Pacific women have been screened for breast cancer – that’s a 9 per cent increase since 2006,” Steve Chadwick said.

“I am extremely pleased that Pacific women are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of regular breast screening,” Winnie Laban said.

“Both Pacific and Māori women’s uptake of regular mammograms is low compared with other ethnicities. Our women are often reluctant to talk about these issues, as we are often frightened, shy and private about our bodies. But with Pacific women 20 per cent more likely to die from breast cancer than other New Zealand women, it is vital that we continue to see more and more Pacific women getting screened.”

“In 2004 this government expanded the breast screening programme, in effect doubling the number of eligible women. Consequently, as so many more women became eligible, the overall percentage initially dipped, but it is great to see those percentages are picking up across all ethnicities,” Steve Chadwick said.

Since May 2006 the percentage of women being screened has increased by 8.9 per cent to 49.8 per cent for Pacific women, by 4.7 per cent (3382 more women) to 47.1 per cent for Māori, and overall has increased by 2.5 per cent to 63.7 per cent.

“I am very pleased by the growing numbers of women participating in the breast screening programme and we only want to see these statistics increase.

“We want to see our Pacific and Māori women coverage figures move closer to that for all women, which is why the government is running a new social marketing campaign from next month, specifically targeting Pacific and Māori women.

“We all have a role in encouraging and supporting screening. Our women can survive cancer to live long and happy lives, and regular screening makes this more likely.”

ENDS

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