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BreastScreen Aotearoa is a programme designed for women who have no apparent breast problems.
Women of any age who feel or notice anything unusual about their breasts should see their doctor. Breast symptoms can be assessed for free through the public health system.
Don't wait to have a screening mammogram. A mammogram by itself does not detect all cancers.
Most lumps and symptoms will not be cancer. However, if you notice any breast symptoms or changes, it is very important that you see your doctor straight away. Don't wait for your next screening mammogram.
All breasts have areas of lumpiness that fluctuate with the menstrual cycle.
In younger women: most lumps have a hormonal basis, so if any lump persists after one menstrual cycle it should be examined by your doctor.
In older women, new lumps should be investigated straight away by your GP.
You may find breast cancer earlier by being aware of your breasts and any changes that are not normal for you.
Looking at your breasts in the mirror and being aware of any new change to them while washing or dressing is important as you get older, especially after age 40. This is recommended for all women, even if they are having mammograms.
These changes are not usually subtle and feel very different from normal breast tissue (even if that is lumpy to the woman).
In the past, some women were taught a formal technique of breast self-examination. This recommendation is no longer made as there is no evidence that this formal self-examination will reduce a woman’s chances of dying from breast cancer. It can also increase a woman’s risk of having unnecessary biopsies.
If you notice any changes in your breasts you should always see your doctor even if you have just had a mammogram. Your doctor may then refer you for further tests.