27 Mar 2013

Rising number of women having cancer screening

6:05 am on 27 March 2013

More women than ever before are taking part in screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says there has been a 10% increase in women getting mammograms in the past five years, and a 7% rise in those receiving tests for cervical cancer since 2009.

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition chair Libby Burgess says the new statistics show increases across all ethnicities, particularly for Pacific Island women.

But she says there is room for improvement to target Maori women, who have a 40% higher diagnosis rate than European women.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand women and early detection through mammograms increases the chance of beating the disease.

A total of 870,000 smear tests were carried out last year. Cervical cancer specialist Dr Dynes McConnell says the rise in women getting tested can be attributed to successful investment in education and campaigning.

Meanwhile Ms Goodhew says the Government has given $14 million to support the rollout of digital mammography at screening centres which will significantly speed up testing for patients.