Tiakina o ū/Look After Your Breasts
This resource is currently under review and is available as an online resource only until the review is completed.
Ko tō oranga, te oranga mō tō whanau
Your wellbeing is wellbeing for your family
BreastScreen Aotearoa is a FREE national breastscreening programme for women aged 45–69
Waea atu ki
0800 270 200
BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA):
- aims to reduce the number of women who die from breast cancer
- offers free mammograms (breast X-rays) every two years to women aged 45–69
- is a FREE national programme.
Mō ngā wahine
BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA) is for women:
- aged 45–69
- with no symptoms of breast cancer
- who have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months
- who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
BSA is a separate programme from private breastscreening. You need to enrol to be part of the BSA programme. To enrol, or check if you are already enrolled, freephone BSA on 0800 270 200.
Mehemea ka tūpono te mate ki o ū?
What are your chances of getting breast cancer?
In Aotearoa, one in every 10 women will develop breast cancer sometime in their life.
The risk of breast cancer increases with age. Most women who get breast cancer:
- are over 50 years old
- have no relatives with the disease.
Kia mōhio noa iho koe
Just so you know
Women of any age who feel or notice anything unusual about their breasts should see their doctor. This may include:
- a new lump or thickening
- a change in breast shape or size
- unusual breast pain
- puckering or dimpling of the skin
- any new change in one nipple, e.g., discharge or turned-in nipple
- a rash or reddening of the skin or nipple in one breast.
Mammograms are breast X-rays. They can detect breast cancer early, which means a very good chance of successful treatment. Mammograms:
- can show changes in the breast tissue before you can see or feel anything
- are safe because they use very small amounts of radiation
- cannot prevent you from getting breast cancer
- can prevent you from dying of breast cancer.
However, mammograms are not perfect. Occasionally a mammogram might not pick up a cancer that is there or it might show something is wrong when all is well.
It is more difficult to find a cancer if you are under 50 years, have not reached menopause, or have dense breast tissue.
Despite this, mammograms are still the best way of finding early breast cancer.
I tō taenga mai ki te āta titiro ki o ū
When you come for your mammogram
- Don’t use talcum powder, moisturisers or deodorant – they make the X-ray hard to read.
- Wear trousers or a skirt so you can undress your top half easily. You will be offered a cape or gown to wear.
When you have your mammogram:
- a medical radiation technologist or MRT will place each breast in turn between two plates
- your breasts are held firmly in the plates for a few seconds as the X-rays are taken
- you may find it uncomfortable, and some women find it embarrassing or painful
- your mammogram will be checked later by two radiologists (X-ray doctors).
Whangaihia te ūkaipo
Look after that which gives sustenance and life
Mā te kōrero, ka mārama
Through discussion, understanding is sought
You (and your doctor if you wish) should get your results within two weeks.
- Most women have normal results and will be asked to return in two years.
- A small number of women will be asked to return for further checking, e.g., more breast X-rays, a scan or a biopsy (a small sample of breast tissue is checked). This is all free.
- Most women who return for checking will not have breast cancer.
He kōrero hira
- Regular mammograms can save lives by detecting cancer early.
- Mammograms are free for women aged 45–69 through BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA).
- Having a mammogram takes only about 30 minutes.
- You can bring a support person with you if you wish.
- Your privacy will be respected at all times.
- There are BSA centres and mobile screening units throughout New Zealand.
Mō ngā kōrero atu anō
For more information
- If you are unhappy with the service you can call BSA on 0800 270 200 or contact the Health and Disability Commission.
- You may ask about your rights at any BSA centre. You are protected by the Code of Health and Disability Consumers’ Rights and the Health Information Privacy Code.
- Ring 0800 270 200 to:
- enrol with BSA
- find your nearest BSA facility
- discuss any special needs
- your iwi Māori health providers
- your own doctor or nurse
- a local women’s centre or health centre
- your local Cancer Society
- or visit www.breastscreen.govt.nz.