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Breast Screening – Widen The Window

Media Release
24 November 2003

Breast Screening – Widen The Window

“The Minister of Health, Hon Annette King, clearly does not understand the importance of introducing breast screening for younger women and starting at age 40,” said New Zealand First Deputy Leader, Peter Brown.

“Last week in the House I asked her if she had received any reports that would justify the breast screening age criteria to be widened outside the current age 50-64 years. Her response was only to disclose that she had reports for 65+.

“She is blind to her own Ministry statistics by not including women aged 40 to 50 in its breast-screening programme. Breast cancer registrations for 2002 showed 426 women aged 40-50 had the disease, compared with 186 in the 65-70 age group.

“Breast cancer kills more than 600 New Zealand women a year. Surgeons point to overseas studies, which show earlier screening leads to a significant drop in death rates.

“I urge the Minister to take this issue very seriously and implement a regime the same as Australia’s,” Peter Brown said. “The cost is but a fraction of that wasted on many projects and would be a genuine move for the betterment of women and their families.”

“The Minister is not alone however in taking a somewhat casual approach to this issue. Last week Debbie and Tim Short presented a Petition to Parliament calling for the Government Breast Screening Programme to include women aged from 40 to 70 years (the same as in Australia) instead of the present 50 years to 64 years, containing in excess of 124,000 signatures. The New Zealand Herald, a newspaper covering an area where many of the submitters come from, printed not one word! Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away – the Minister and the Herald should both get their heads out of the sand,” Peter Brown concluded.

ENDS

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