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Raising breast screening awareness will save lives

Hon Steve Chadwick
Associate Minister of Health

17 August 2008 Media Statement
Raising breast screening awareness will saves lives

Raising awareness amongst Maori and Pacific women of the importance of regular breast screening will save lives, Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick said today.

"Today is the first day of national advertising campaign that particularly encourages Maori and Pacific women to have free, two-yearly mammograms,” Steve Chadwick said.

Steve Chadwick said the new campaign encourages all 45 to 69-year-old women to have free mammograms through the national BreastScreen Aotearoa programme.

“The six new television commercials feature people sharing their personal stories and include a breast cancer survivor, a son who lost his mother to breast cancer and a Pacific minister who urges Pacific women to undertake regular screening.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand women, and Maori and Pacific women are more likely to die from breast cancer than other New Zealand women. This is largely due to late diagnosis and treatment.

“Many Maori and Pacific women are unaware of the importance of regular screening, and that early detection offers the best chance of survival. This new campaign promotes the benefits of screening and the fact that the service is free, as well as dispelling some myths about screening that can hold women back from getting checked.”

Research shows that only 43 per cent of Maori and Pacific women were aware of breast screening as a method of checking for breast cancer. The research also revealed low awareness of the screening age range, that the service is free and the recommended screening frequency.

“These findings, as well as low screening rates, meant we needed a campaign to reach our Maori and Pacific women.

“Since 2006 we have seen a significant increase in Maori and Pacific women being screened – about 3000 more Maori women, and almost 1900 more Pacific women, received mammograms in the last two years, compared with two years ago. It is encouraging that more women are participating in the programme, but we have to see these figures continue to grow.”

The programme aims to screen 70 per cent of eligible women every two years. Figures to May 2008, show around 50 per cent of eligible Pacific women and 47 per cent of eligible Maori women were screened, compared to 66 per cent for other women.


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