Hundreds of breast cancer cases undetected under lockdown
Responding to Dr Chris Jackson’s comments to the Epidemic Response Committee today regarding delayed cancer diagnoses during the COVID-19 lockdown, Adele Gautier, research & advocacy manager at Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, said:
“During the 6 weeks that breast screening has been on hold, 200 women who have no idea they’ve got breast cancer have missed out on the mammogram that would have found it. We need to return to full-on screening and get through the backlog urgently, so that everyone gets a timely diagnosis.
“In addition, nearly another 200 women will have found a breast lump while they’ve been locked down at home that will turn out to be cancer. Many will be consumed with worry but may have struggled to see their GP or be facing delays in diagnosis because they’re not a priority just now. Others will be afraid of going out to the GP or hospital, so will put off doing something about the lump until later.
“Early detection is a huge factor in breast cancer survival; we need to be enabling that right now, and making it clear to women that it’s safe and essential to get their regular mammograms and to get any symptoms checked out.”
BreastScreen Aotearoa performs about 22,500 mammograms a month throughout NZ – these are “screening mammograms” for women who have no symptoms.