BreastScreen Aotearoa Study of Breast Cancer Mortality 1999-2011
A major new study confirms that New Zealand’s organised breast screening programme, BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA), is reducing the rate of death from breast cancer.
The study was commissioned by the National Screening Unit and carried out by researchers from the University of New South Wales. The researchers have extensive experience in similar studies, including mortality evaluations of breast screening programmes in Australia.
The study found that:
- For women ever screened by BSA, the death rate from breast cancer is reduced by a third, compared to women never screened by the programme.
- For women who take part in regular BSA screening, there is an even greater reduction in the rate of breast cancer deaths.
- For women with a BSA screen-detected cancer, outcomes are more favourable, as the cancer is found earlier.
- Although Māori women had low average participation in screening through the study, it was clear that they would benefit from a similar reduction in the death rate as other New Zealand women if participation can be increased.
Findings suggest that New Zealand’s BSA programme has been effective in reducing the rate of death from breast cancer, and this has been demonstrated across Māori and Pacific ethnic groups and in all New Zealand women. The reductions in the rate of death from breast cancer seen in the programme are consistent with findings demonstrated in international research.
Participation for Māori and Pacific women, although low, has been steadily improving in recent years. It continues to be a major priority for BSA to achieve equitable access to breast screening for all eligible women.
These results are evidence that BSA is achieving predicted results in the established screening programme. It also confirms that greater reductions in death rates are possible if participation targets are achieved in all priority groups and across the country.