Missing Women: 133 don’t know they have potentially deadly breast cancer

The Breast Cancer Foundation is calling on the government to take more urgent action to re-prioritize breast screening. Without it, 133 women — known as the Missing Women — could die of breast cancer they don’t yet know they have.

The reason? Lockdowns postponing the programming of routine mammograms has caused a snowballing backlog of women waiting for appointments.

This comes as the national breast screening programme has been put on hold since Level 4 began on August 18, and then went to running at a reduced capacity in Level 3.

Many women calling for screening appointments are being told to wait until next year. Breast Cancer Foundation chief executive Ah-Leen Rayner says that this delay could kill — 133 kiwi women to be exact.

Quite literally Covid has set us back 10 years, which is tragic, absolutely tragic,” Ah-Leen Rayner told the Herald.

The Missing Women’ petition (CLICK to view more) has been set up to prioritise breast in order to avoid this becoming a harrowing reality. It calls on policy makers to:

  • Add breast screening participation to the new Health System Indicators Health Minister Andrew Little announced would measure how well our public health system was 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 6 months.
  • Ensure breast screening continues to operate in level 4 lockdown in the same way as level 3, to help minimise future losses.

For the full coverage on this petition and campaign, see the original article by Emma Russell on NZ Herald here.