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Source: Royal NZ College of General Practitioners

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners is reminding people to take the time to check their breasts, and to see your GP if you have any concerns.
College President and Wellington GP Dr Samantha Murton says, “It’s important to get into the habit of checking your breasts regularly so you know what is normal and if there any changes.
“Equally important is booking an appointment to see your GP if you have any concerns. COVID-19 restrictions over the past 18 months meant many people put off making appointments. If you need to see a GP, no matter the reason or what alert level we’re at, you will be seen, either via video call or in person.”
Seeing your GP as soon as possible if you notice any unusual changes to your body is key. Your GP can provide advice and support and if need be, arrange for further testing.
“We understand that these conversations can sometimes be daunting or uncomfortable. If bringing along a friend or whānau member to support you will help, then we encourage you to do so,” says Dr Murton.
Regular mammograms should be scheduled every two years between the ages of 45 and 69. These are free of charge and can be booked by calling BreastScreen Aotearoa on 0800 200 270. Your GP can advise if you are eligible for a mammogram.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women, and the third most common cancer overall. It affects one in nine New Zealand women over their lifetime.
Overall, 80 percent of people with breast cancer survive 10 years or more, and that rises to 92 percent if detected on a screening mammogram.
About 70 – 75 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are over age 50 years old, 6 percent are under age 40 and approximately 25 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand each year.