About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer to affect New Zealand women - every year 3000 women and 20 men in this country will be diagnosed. 

In the drop-down menu above, you will find more information about the early detection of breast cancer, diagnosis and treatment of the disease and support if you've been diagnosed.

Below are some statistics about breast cancer in New Zealand.  Remember that most women survive a diagnosis of breast cancer and go on to live long and healthy lives.

Breast cancer in New Zealand

  • Every day up to seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand (Ministry of Health).
  • Around five to ten per cent of breast cancers are hereditary i.e. a breast cancer gene (e.g. BRCA1 or BRCA2) has been passed on. However, most breast cancers are diagnosed in women with no family history of the disease.
  • The risk of breast cancer increases with age, but does affect some women in their twenties and thirties. Around five per cent of all cases will affect women under the age of 40.
  • Maori women are 40 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than non-Maori women and 60 per cent more likely to die of the disease. (Cancer: New registrations and deaths 2011, Wellington: Ministry of Health.)
  • Breast cancer is primarily a woman's disease, but around one per cent of cases will affect men (Ministry of Health).
  • Every year, more than 600 women die from breast cancer in New Zealand, almost two every day (Ministry of Health).
  • Be ‘breast-aware’. Early detection saves lives. Look out for changes in the appearance of the skin, nipple or breast. Visit your doctor if you notice anything unusual and make sure you are satisfied with the response.  Enrol for the free national breast screening programme at age 45 and return every two years for your mammogram.
  • View a summary of the latest breast cancer statistics breast cancer statistics here.
  • Check out the Standards for Service Provision for Breast Cancer Patients in New Zealand  - these standards describe the level of service a person with breast cancer should have access to in New Zealand.

BCAC has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information on this site, but there is no substitute for the expert advice of your medical team.  If you are unclear about something or need further information ask your doctor.

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