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HealthInfo Canterbury

At-risk breast cancer screening

breast cancer screeningIf you're in the small group of women who have a higher than normal risk of breast cancer, ask your GP if you qualify for a genetic assessment or at-risk breast screening.

Around 5% of women have a higher than normal risk of breast cancer. You may have a higher risk of breast cancer if you have:

All women in New Zealand who are eligible for publicly funded health services can get a free screening mammogram every two years from the age of 45 to 69. This screening is effective at picking up breast cancer early, so make sure you're signed up to the scheme if you're over 45.

There are several criteria that help decide if you're eligible for extra screening. If you are, you'll have a personalised programme for extra screening mammograms based on your level of risk. This programme is funded, which means you won't have to pay.

Examples of screening programmes include:

If a screening mammogram finds something that needs further investigation or treatment, your GP will arrange this.

If you don't qualify for the local at-risk breast cancer screening programme but would prefer to be screened every year, you may choose to pay for a private mammogram in the years between your two-yearly funded mammograms. Your GP can write you a private referral.


New Zealand health professionals don't recommend thermography for screening or assessing breast symptoms.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2018. Last updated February 2020.


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Review key: HIBSS-29688