The best method for early detection of a breast cancer is an x-ray examination called a mammogram. A mammogram is the only reliable way of detecting the presence of breast cancer while it is still in its early stages and before a lump can be felt. Lumps in the breast are not only caused by breast cancer. They can simply be cysts or prominent breast tissue. A mammogram will help determine the nature of the lump.
When should I have a mammogram?
Regular screening mammograms are recommended from the age of 40 years.
- Women aged 40 to 50 years should have annual mammography.
- Women aged 50 and over should have a mammogram every two years.
- Women who have had a previous breast cancer should have annual mammography.
If you qualify and register with the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme, you will be offered a free mammogram every two years. However, some women who have either a significant family history of breast cancer or changes in the breast detected by prior biopsy may require annual mammograms beyond age 50.
If you have breast symptoms such as pain, a lump or discharge you must see your doctor for a referral form for a diagnostic mammogram.
All private mammograms will incur a fee.
Options for accessing mammography
Private: Diagnostic mammography is available at our Tauranga and Whakatane branches. A referral from your doctor is needed to make an appointment. At the time of the mammogram a Radiologist will view your mammography images and may recommend further views or possibly ultrasound scanning if more information is needed. The cost of a diagnostic mammogram will vary. Please contact us for an indicative price.
A screening mammogram is for women who currently have no breast symptoms or concerns. Screening mammography is available at our Tauranga, Whakatane and Mount Maunganui branches. Women over the age of 40 are able to come to us for a screening mammogram without a referral letter/form from a doctor. Simply contact us and we can make an appointment for you. This examination bares a cost and is not a free service.
Breast Screening Aotearoa: This is the free national screening programme. Visit www.breastscreen.govt.nz to find out more.
Other: Your doctor may be able to obtain funding through the Public Health system for you to be able to have a mammogram. Discuss this option with your GP if you wish to explore it further.