Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among New Zealand women. One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.

Cancer is when some of the cells in our body get out of control. These ‘cancerous cells’ keep multiplying, forming a lump called a tumour that can spread to surrounding tissue, such as the breasts, causing damage.

The best treatment for breast cancer is finding it at an early stage. Mammograms can pick up breast cancers that are as small as a grain of rice. By the time you can feel a breast cancer, it is already about the size of a cherry or walnut. Mammograms are a low-dose x-ray of the breast tissue. The radiation is equivalent to that received when flying from Invercargill to Auckland.


Key Points:

  1. Women: - make sure you have a FREE screening mammogram (test to pick up early signs) every 2 years from age 45 to 69 years of age
  2. This is worth doing as mammograms can detect pre-cancerous changes or breast cancers at an early stage when treatment is more successful.
  3. Men - encourage your wives/partners to have this test done
  4. If you find a breast lump, see your doctor to have it checked
  5. The risk of breast cancer increases with age and positive family history
  6. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, read these sections for further information and seek help from supporting agencies
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VideoBreast cancer - videos, tutorials, extensive library of resources MedlinePlus
VideoBreast Cancer Video Part 1 of 3 Faultline Productions & Te Mangai Paho
htmlWhat is breast cancer? National Screening Unit - NZ
VideoVideos - Breast awareness campaign NZ Breast Cancer Foundation
htmlBreat cancer - introduction NHS Choices
htmlFrequently asked questions about the screening programme National Screening Unit - NZ
VideoVideos - Breast awareness campaign NZ Breast Cancer Foundation
pdfBreastscreen resources in multiple languages National Screening Unit - NZ
  Multiple Languages
htmlSymptoms of breast cancer NHS Choices
htmlDiagnosing breast cancer NHS Choices
 Reliable UK website, but some information may be different
htmlBreast awareness National Screening Unit - NZ
VideoIf I have a new lump in my breast - video explaining what to expect MedlinePlus

Treatments & Medication

The treatment plan for each woman with breast cancer is different so talk with your doctor and oncologist (cancer specialist) when you have questions about treatment options or medications.


Every woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer needs support. This can be in the form of information, someone to talk with who knows what it's like, support groups through to emotional support and practical help around the house or with the family. Don't struggle on your own. Talk with someone!

htmlPersonal stories National Screening Unit - NZ
 Available in English & MaoriMaori
htmlWhat can you do for someone who is diagnosed? NZ Breast Cancer Foundation
htmlSupport for positive lives with secondary breast cancer Sweet Louise
Reviewed By Dr J Bycroft
Date last reviewed [Date Reviewed]