7 May 2020

Some DHBs weeks away from restarting breast cancer screening

9:38 am on 7 May 2020

The Breast Cancer Foundation says potentially hundreds of women have no idea they have breast cancer because no screening was done under the level 4 lockdown.

Breast Cancer

File photo. Photo: 123RF

The Epidemic Response Committee was yesterday told people will die unless the health system catches up with the backlog of cancer screening.

Adele Gautier from the foundation told Morning Report that Breast Screen Aoteroa screens 22,500 per month. Of those, 130 turn out to have breast cancer.

"We know that for over the six weeks or so screening has been shut, that 200 women will have no idea they have breast cancer and have missed out on a mammogram that would have found it."

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Gautier acknowledged that the shutdown was necessary and believes the government did the right thing, but said screening needs to get underway immediately.

Some DHBs have started screening again in the last week while others are still catching up on the backlog of diagnoses they caught before lockdown, she said. Other DHBs are still a couple weeks away from reopening screening.

"That is a problem around the country," she said, "We need to have a plan in place to make sure everybody gets their screening at the right level as fast as possible."

While breast screening has the green light under alert level 3, Gautier said some clinics are still working out the logistics of social distancing.

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