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Cost Of Breast Screening A Barrier To Patients

Older women at risk of breast cancer are delaying treatment because of the cost, Alliance Leader Jim Anderton says.

Under the current breast screening programme a free mammogram is available every two years to all women aged 50 to 64 who have no symptoms of breast cancer.

Women over 64 have to pay for doctors visits and breast screening mammograms.

Costs include $30-$45 for a doctor and up to $100 for a mammogram.

Dorothy Bourke, a 69-year-old Rangiora pensioner taking oestrogen for her osteoporosis, contact ed Mr Anderton when found she had to pay for her mammograms even after she was advised by her doctor that she was a high-risk patient.

Her doctor says she needs mammograms every two years.

'A person like Dorothy on a single-person's superannuation cannot be expected to find an extra $130,' Jim Anderton said.

'When the breast screening programme was trialled in New Zealand, the upper age limit was 69.

Now it is 64 and the reduction in availability which results in the e! xclusion of some high-risk women like Dorothy, is inexplicable.

'What has really enraged Dorothy is that she was recently flown by her family for a holiday in Australia.

While she was there she was given a free mammogram through Breast Screen Brisbane.

The Australian Government seems to value women much more than the Government here.

'In Australia, a national breast-screening programme provides free screening mammograms at two yearly intervals mainly to women between 50 and 69.

Women aged 40 and above a re eligible, if cost would otherwise prevent screening.

In Canada, a national screening programme provides free annual screening and free clinical breast examination to women 50-69 Jim Anderton has written to the Minister of Health seeking an extension to the breast screening programme to include women up to the age of 69 and any others where cost would preclude screening.

The Alliance wants all charges for doctors visits and essential medical care removed.

'In t! his situation, delay can cost lives.

Cost must not prevent! women from accessing the quality screening and treatment they deserve,' Jim Anderton said.

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