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From Medicineworld.org: Breast Cancer Numbers Increase Among New Zealand Women

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Breast Cancer Numbers Increase Among New Zealand Women


Breast Cancer Numbers Increase Among New Zealand Women Evans Bay New Zealand
The number of women in the upper South Island diagnosed with breast cancer is soaring as access to screening services improves.

Pressure is now on therapy providers who are faced with an influx of newly diagnosed cancer patients seeking radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Mammographies provided by BreastScreen South led to 244 women in Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast being diagnosed with breast cancer in the year to November. That figure compares with 159 the prior year and 143 the year before that.

A Canterbury District Health Board manager says the extra costs of treating the women with chemotherapy have added to a $2.48 million budget overrun in Christchurch Hospital's medical and surgical services division this financial year.

The age range for Government- funded breast cancer screening was extended in July last year to include all women aged 45 to 69.

However, a lack of staff and equipment meant women in the younger age bracket have only recently been able to access the programme.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among New Zealand women. About 2200 women develop the disease each year and 640 die from it.

BreastScreen South clinical director Richard Chisholm said the higher number of diagnoses showed the screening extension had been a success. "It's a predictable increase, but over all we're pleased that we're detecting breast cancers".

He said some of the extra women would have been picked up anyway through private screening or by going to their GP after finding a lump.

Christchurch Hospital clinical director of radiation oncology Dr Chris Wynne said clinical staff had noticed a "very definite shift" towards earlier diagnosis.

"There are more early-stage breast cancers being detected and less late-stage cancers, which obviously improves the rate of cure. The smaller a tumour is, the more curable it is," he said.

"If mammography detects a small lump that hasn't spread to the lymph glands, that woman would have an 85 to 95 per cent chance of being alive and free of the disease in 10 years".

Wynne said early-stage cancers were more likely to require radiotherapy than more radical therapys such as mastectomy. This would increase pressure on the already "stretched" provision of radiotherapy.

"We've made enormous efficiency gains (in radiotherapy), but we need continuing investments in equipment and staff," he said. "Management need to juggle to ensure we can continue to treat these patients".

Breast Cancer Foundation spokeswoman Karen Lloyd said the increase showed screening saved lives.

The foundation recommended women "take personal responsibility for their own health" and pay for yearly mammograms from age 40, at a cost of about $100 a time.

Lloyd said it was unrealistic to expect the national screening programme to widen to include the 40 to 45 age group soon.

Hospital to hire specialist --A9 .

By DAVIS, Joanna .


Did you know?
The number of women in the upper South Island diagnosed with breast cancer is soaring as access to screening services improves. Pressure is now on therapy providers who are faced with an influx of newly diagnosed cancer patients seeking radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Mammographies provided by BreastScreen South led to 244 women in Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast being diagnosed with breast cancer in the year to November. That figure compares with 159 the prior year and 143 the year before that.

Medicineworld.org: Breast Cancer Numbers Increase Among New Zealand Women

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