October 2021: At least 133 women across Aotearoa New Zealand have no idea they have breast cancer right now because Covid-19 lockdowns prevented them getting the mammogram that would have diagnosed them. These women are missing from treatment in our health system. This number will grow, as we deal with the fallout of extended lockdowns. We’re petitioning the Government to take urgent action to prevent more women being lost.
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ works hard to create positive change in the following areas:
- Ensuring at-risk groups have access to funded mammograms
- Continued improvement in access to treatment and care for all New Zealanders
- Development and implementation of NZ guidelines to improve consistency of care
- The rolling out of the Breast Cancer Foundation National Register
- Improved access to breast cancer drugs
- Increased access for women to reconstructive surgery.
BCFNZ is a committed member of Cancer Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO), an alliance of eight prominent NZ charities: Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa, Child Cancer Foundation, Hospice New Zealand, Leukaemia & Blood Cancer, Melanoma Foundation and The Cancer Society. The group was formed in 2007 to unite cancer charities, strengthening our anti-cancer efforts.
Raising the free mammogram upper age limit from 69 to 74
Free mammograms stop at age 69, but your risk of breast cancer is actually higher at 70 than it is at 50. We've been campaigning to raise the upper age limit for free mammograms from 69 to 74, to ensure that women in their early 70s are able to detect breast cancer as early as possible.
We'd like to say a big thank you to the 10,000 caring Kiwis who signed our petition. We presented it, and the evidence for raising the screening age, to the Health Select Committee, and the Government responded by announcing they intend to "progressively increase the age for free breast screening to 74".
Advanced breast cancer
This year, about 350 New Zealanders will be told they have advanced breast cancer (ABC) – also called secondary, or Stage 4, or metastatic breast cancer. This is breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body and is incurable. They’ll become part of the constantly changing population of Kiwis living with ABC
In September 2018, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ published “I’m Still Here”, a report offering insight into what’s really happening in ABC care. Following the release of our report, we invited Dr Fatima Cardoso, a world expert in advanced breast cancer, to share her knowledge in New Zealand. Sincethen, we have been advocating to government and health agencies to provide a better deal for Kiwis with ABC, including a presenting a petition to the Health Select Committee for free GP visits for ABC patients.