Missing women

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The Missing Women

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Help us find the Missing Women

Help us find the Missing Women

Covid-19 lockdowns have had a devastating impact on breast cancer diagnoses.

At least 133 women across Aotearoa New Zealand have no idea they have breast cancer right now because they missed 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.

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This can’t go on. Help us to find these missing women and ensure more New Zealanders can access regular mammograms.

We’re petitioning the Government to:

  • Add breast screening participation to the new Health System Indicators that measure how well our public health system is doing
  • Invest in restoring and extending the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme to the agreed target of 70% coverage of women aged 45-69, and extending to 70-74 in line with other countries
  • Provide funding and resources to enable BreastScreen Aotearoa to process the entire backlog within six months
  • Ensure breast screening continues to operate in Level 4 lockdown in the same way as Level 3, to help minimise future losses.

Sign the petition

9958 have signed the petition. Add your name today and share the petition to help us make our voices even stronger.

The petition closes on 30 November.

Request: That the House of Representatives urge the Government to restore and extend the screening programme for breast cancer, the leading cause of death for women under 65, by adding breast-screening participation as a Health System Indicator, aiming to screen 70% of eligible women, and screening women aged 70-74.

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Are YOU one of the Missing Women?

If you missed a mammogram during lockdown, rebook immediately. You might have to wait, but make sure you get that mammogram. And share this message with anyone else you know who might have missed out.

If you have any signs of breast cancer – a lump, skin or nipple changes, a change in shape or size, or unusual breast pain – see your GP right away.

Don’t let Covid stop you finding breast cancer early

More about the missing women

When the country went into Alert Level 4 on August 18 2021, women couldn’t go for their regular mammograms. And from Level 3 onwards, it’s been harder to get a mammogram. This means breast cancer cases are going undetected in our communities.

Sadly, deaths from breast cancer could soon be on the rise. In locked-down 2020, there was a 12% drop in invasive breast cancers detected by screening mammograms compared with 2019[1]. This means more women missed the chance to be diagnosed early. Later diagnosis can make cancer harder to treat and more likely to come back. The 2021 lockdowns have been longer than in 2020: more women will miss out.

Mammograms are one of the most effective ways to reduce deaths from breast cancer. We have one of the best breast screening programmes in the world, but data shows this is being undermined.

The Ministry of Health’s own data shows there has been a steep decline in the number of women having mammograms since Covid arrived to NZ, setting back our screening programme by 10 years.

Younger women, wāhine Māori and Pacific women are most affected. In fact, all ethnicities now fall short of the 70% participation required for an effective screening programme. Women will continue to miss out.

Overseas Covid-19 impact studies suggest that women with delayed diagnoses will need more severe treatments and some will go on to die of advanced (metastatic) breast cancer.

[1] 2020 data from The Breast Cancer Foundation National Register – Te Rēhita Mate Ūtaetae, for women aged 45-69 in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Christchurch

Help us take action. Sign the petition.