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National supports breast screening petition

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokeswoman

18 November 2003

National supports breast screening petition

The National Party is throwing its full support behind calls for the Government to change its breast screening policy.

"The current policy is failing Kiwi women, leaving them more exposed to breast cancer than they need to be," says National's Health spokeswoman Dr Lynda Scott.

Dr Scott's comments are in response to a 110,000-strong petition presented at Parliament today calling for the Government to extend the starting age for free mammograms.

"The incidence for breast cancer increases markedly from 45 years onwards, yet free mammograms are not available to women under 50 years," says Dr Scott.

"Early detection is the best way to battle this cancer, and we know screening works. Statistics show there is up to 44% reduction in breast cancer deaths amongst women who receive screening.

"To prevent more cases of breast cancer and save more lives, free mammograms should be offered to those 40 years and over.

"Australia does this, and it has a 28% lower death rate than New Zealand.

"All this when New Zealand women are still suffering through long waits for radiation therapy and, in some cases, having to travel to Australia for treatment. This puts a huge burden on those women and their families.

"It's time this Government listened to the women of New Zealand and acted to stem the tide of women dying of breast cancer," says Dr Scott.

Ends

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