How the process works

This interactive diagram guides you through the breast screening process.

Awareness and conversation

Find out about BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA), the national breast screening programme.

You may see ads for breast screening, or hear about it from your doctor or nurse, or a friend or family members, if you are aged 45 to 69, you might receive an invitation to have breast screening.

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Do you choose to have a mammogram?

Deciding to have a mammogram may save your life. Find out more about why you should be screened.

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Yes

Register with the programme

You can enrol in the BSA programme by ringing 0800 270 200 or clicking here to register online.

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No

You can reconsider and join the programme at any age between 45 and 69 years.

After you have registered with BSA you will receive an appointment letter with the time and location of your appointment. Please call the clinic if the suggested appointment time does not suit.

On the day of your mammogram wear clothing that is easy to remove, such as a blouse or jersey, as you will be required to undress from the waist up.

You will stand in front of a special x-ray machine. The person who takes the x-rays (always a woman) places your breasts (one at a time) between two plastic plates. The plates press your breast and make it flat. You will feel pressure on your breast for a few seconds as it is pressed between the plates. It may cause you some discomfort, feeling like squeezing or pinching. But, the flatter your breasts, the better the picture. The whole visit should take about thirty minutes.

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Routine re-screening

In two years' time BSA will invite you for your next mammogram

The programme will send you results to you within two weeks of you having your mammogram. For most women, the result will be normal and they will be asked to return for their next mammogram in two years.

Possible problem found

A small number of women will be phoned to come back because something needs further checking. This service, which is also free, may involve more mammograms, an ultrasound and perhaps the taking of a small sample of breast tissue for examination under a microscope. Most women recalled will not have breast cancer.

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Normal Results

Recalled for assessment

If you have an abnormal result you will be asked to come back for further tests. Most women asked to come back do not have breast cancer.

A small number of women may need to return another day for a surgical (open) biopsy to see if they have breast cancer.

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No breast cancer found

The few women who do have breast cancer will be referred to a specialist for treatment. Treating breast cancer while it is still small gives a woman a better chance of successful treatment.

Most women will be advised to have surgery to remove the cancer. Some women will need further treatment such as radiation therapy, hormone treatment, chemotherapy or a combination of these. The specialist will discuss these treatment options with you.

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Your Breast Cancer specialists will manage your on-going care.

You can enter or re-enter the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme five years from when your cancer was found.

  • Awareness & Conversation - Find out about BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA), the national breast screening programme - You may see ads for breast screening, or hear about it from your doctor or nurse, or a friend or family members. If you are aged 45 to 69, you might receive an invitation to have breast screening.
  • Decide to have a mammogram.
  • Register with the programme you can enrol in the BSA programme by ringing 0800 270 200 or registering on line.
  • After you have registered with BSA you will receive an appointment letter with the time and location of your appointment. Please call the clinic if the suggested appointment time does not suit.
  • On the day of your mammogram wear clothing that is easy to remove, such as a blouse or jersey, as you will be required to undress from the waist up.
    You will stand in front of a special x-ray machine. The person who takes the x-rays (always a woman) places your breasts (one at a time) between two plastic plates. The plates press your breast and make it flat. You will feel pressure on your breast for a few seconds as it is pressed between the plates. It may cause you some discomfort, feeling like squeezing or pinching. But, the flatter your breasts, the better the picture. The whole visit should take about thirty minutes.
  • The programme will send your results to you within two weeks of you having your mammogram. For most women, the result will be normal and they will be asked to return for their next mammogram in two years.
  • If you results are normal you will return to routine re-screening and In two years’ time BSA will invite you for your next mammogram.
  • A small number of women will be phoned to come back because something needs further checking. This service, which is also free, may involve more mammograms, an ultrasound and perhaps the taking of a small sample of breast tissue for examination under a microscope. Most women recalled will not have breast cancer.
  • Recalled for assessment - If you have an abnormal result you will be asked to come back for further tests. Most women asked to come back do not have breast cancer. A small number of women may need to return another day for a surgical (open) biopsy to see if they have breast cancer.
  • You will receive your results of your further assessment. If no breast cancer is found you will return to routine re-screening and in two years’ time BSA will invite you for your next mammogram.
  • The few women who do have breast cancer will be referred to a specialist for treatment. Treating breast cancer while it is still small gives a woman a better chance of successful treatment.
  • Most women will be advised to have surgery to remove the cancer. Some women will need further treatment such as radiation therapy, hormone treatment, chemotherapy or a combination of these. The specialist will discuss these treatment options with you.
    Your Breast Cancer specialists will manage your on-going care. You can enter or re-enter the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme five years from when your cancer was found.

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Page last updated: 12 November 2014
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