Give Us Our Mammograms • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

What we do

Give Us Our Mammograms

Help us take action to prevent avoidable deaths from breast cancer

Help us take action to prevent avoidable deaths from breast cancer

Since October 2021, we’ve been telling the Government it’s unacceptable to have 50,000 women waiting for their mammogram. Without major investment, the backlog won’t be cleared – but our calls for $15m in funding to restore breast screening have been ignored.

Help us to send a powerful visual message to the Government that this isn’t good enough:

  1. Download and print our “#GiveUsOurMammograms” sign, using the link below.
  2. Have someone take a photo of you with the sign held in front of your chest.
  3. Upload your picture using the form below and share it on social media to encourage more people to take action.*

We’ll collate everyone’s photos and deliver them to Government Ministers. The more photos we collect, the stronger our message will be.

*By sending us your photo, you’ll be giving us permission to use your photo publicly as part of this campaign.

“Mammograms are the best tool for an early diagnosis and it’s crucial everyone can get their regular mammograms when they’re due. Help us tell the Government this backlog of 50,000 is unacceptable!” – Stacey Morrison, Broadcaster and Breast Cancer Foundation NZ Ambassador.

Why take action

We knew Covid-19 was having an impact on breast cancer diagnoses and now we know the extent of that problem. 50,000 Kiwi women are overdue their mammograms due to breast screening being stopped or heavily reduced during lockdowns.

Continued delays to screening mean hundreds of women could have breast cancer without knowing it. A devastating statistic, given breast cancer is already the number one cause of death for New Zealand women under 65.

We are calling on the Government to commit $15 million to urgently clear the mammogram backlog and prevent women being diagnosed late. We want every woman to have the best chance of survival, and that means finding breast cancer early.

#GiveUsOurMammograms is the next phase of our Missing Women campaign and supports our petition signed by more than 10,600 people, urging the Government to restore and extend the screening programme.

Participation in BreastScreen Aotearoa’s breast screening programme has dropped to 64%, the lowest it’s been in the last decade. Māori and Pacific rates are worst affected, with rates dropping to 58% and 61% respectively.

Our modelling showed that as a result of last year’s lockdowns, 133 women could have undetected breast cancer.

With the mammogram backlog now at 50,000, this number could increase to 300 breast cancer diagnoses going undiagnosed and untreated.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How was the backlog created?

When New Zealand first went into Alert Level 4 lockdown in March 2020, all screening, including breast screening, ground to a complete halt. Mammogram appointments were delayed or cancelled entirely.

In Alert Level 3, screening started up again, but at a reduced capacity.

Since then, the country has moved in and out of lockdowns and traffic light settings, which has continued to impact screening services and the women scheduled to have their mammograms.

I managed to get my mammogram on time. So who is #GiveUsOurMammograms for?

The Ministry of Health has admitted that Covid disruptions to breast screening resulted in 50,000 women overdue their mammograms. We’re worried about the hundreds of women who could have breast cancer without knowing it because they had their mammogram cancelled during lockdown and haven’t been rescheduled, or they’re now due one and haven’t been able to get booked in.

If your routine mammogram is coming up it is likely you will not be affected, and will have your appointment as normal.

How old do you have to be to have a mammogram?

Women aged between 45 to 69 are eligible for a free mammogram every 2 years with the National Screening Unit.

Women over 70 are encouraged to still be screened, but have to pay to get their mammograms done privately.

However, as your risk of breast cancer is actually higher at 70 than it is at 50, we’ve long been campaigning to raise the upper age limit for free mammograms from 69 to 74, to ensure women in their early 70s are able to detect breast cancer as early as possible.

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What will fix this?

There needs to be an extra 1000 mammograms done per week to clear this backlog within one year. Over the last eight months, we have been asking the Government for $15 million in funding for BreastScreen Aotearoa to do this, but our calls were ignored in the Government’s 2022 Budget, announced in May.

Aside from the 50,000 women waiting for their mammogram, the Budget failed to address issues of health workforce shortages, the growing screening population, and the need to extend the upper screening age limit to 74.

This issue needs significant investment and workforce planning in order to screen the 50,000 women overdue their mammograms.

How can I help?

Head to top of this page, and download our mammogram poster. Take a picture with it (either on a screen, or print it out!) then upload it to our website using the form, and share to your own social media. Watch our handy how-to video for further instructions. 

We will take these pictures to Government Ministers, so the more pictures we can collate, the stronger our voice will be. Please add your voice to the call and help the 50,000 women get their mammograms.

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