In the early 1990s, five New Zealand doctors decided it was time to talk about breast cancer
They were sick of seeing patients turn up too late with cancers that could have been cured if they’d been found easier. One of the big problems was that women were embarrassed to talk about breast cancer, even with each other.
In 1994, they founded The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, and launched the first annual October Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign supported by Estée Lauder.
Since then, many thousands of lives have been saved, thanks to education about breast cancer signs and symptoms, the introduction of NZ's mammogram screening programme (enabling earlier diagnosis), and advances in treatment.
The name was changed from The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation to Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand (BCFNZ) in 2017.
BCFNZ has played a key part in many milestones in breast cancer awareness and treatment, through our funding of research and medical grants, our education and patient support programmes and our advocacy:
|Mammogram screening rates of women are now over 70% in the 45-69 age group||Our national education and awareness campaigns about mammograms are the main source of early detection education in NZ. We have donated equipment, transportation and other resources to BreastScreen Aotearoa|
|Breast cancer deaths have dropped 30% since the introduction of free mammograms, and with better treatments. Ten-year survival is 92% for cancers found on a mammogram (75% for women who find a lump)||We fund training for doctors and nurses, and new equipment for our hospitals, helping to make new treatments available to Kiwis as early as possible.
|We know more than ever about breast cancer in NZ, which means we can make the best treatment pathways available to all patients and ultimately move towards personalised treatments.
||BCFNZ has funded Te Rēhita Mate Ūtaetae, the Breast Cancer Foundation National Register, since 2000, spending more than $5 million to collect and research data about breast cancer diagnoses, treatment and outcomes in NZ. Te Rēhita, the National Register, helps doctors identify gaps in treatment and care, and the most successful treatment pathways. We also fund a breast cancer tissue bank, which will help the development of personalised treatments.
|Support for people with breast cancer has become a higher priority – for those who are cured, and those living with advanced cancer.
||We support patients with our 0800 specialist breast nurse advice line, our nationwide counselling services, post-surgery rehabilitation programmes, and our online patient community.|