Breast cancer survivors have more than a 70 per cent chance of living for at least another 10 years after battling the disease, new figures show.

Eight women a day were being diagnosed with breast cancer, which meant the call for early detection and better treatments remained as important as ever, the Breast Cancer Foundation said.

Today was the first day of Breast Cancer Month and 10-year survival data figures from the Auckland Breast Cancer register, released today, showed a five-year survival rate of 83 per cent and a 71 per cent 10-year survival rate.

The register collected data relating to a third of breast cancers diagnosed in New Zealand.


"We can see immediately there's no room for complacency in the health sector with regard to the five-year numbers, when women are dying further down the track, after their cancer metastasises," foundation chief executive Evangelia Henderson said.

"This picture of 10-year survival is essential to understanding breast cancer outcomes in New Zealand, and where we can do better.

"Researchers will be wanting to drill down into this data to understand survival variations across ethnicities, age groups, types of breast cancer and different treatment paths."

Breast cancer survivors needed to remain vigilant about their breast health, so any recurrence could be quickly detected, Mrs Henderson said.

"Breast cancer won't go away any time soon. In fact, incidence is still going up, with 3000 women diagnosed each of the last two years.

"But fewer women are dying of the disease -- the number of deaths in New Zealand has remained static at between 600 and 650 a year for a while now."

The foundation was funding research into new biomarkers for breast cancer that could identify higher risk patients and those more likely to die of the disease, enabling tailored treatments to be selected, Mrs Henderson said.

It was also funding research into new treatments for aggressive, hard-to-treat cancers like triple-negative breast cancer, or under-researched cancers like lobular breast cancer.


The foundation was also calling for the extension of the free screening age to 74, from its current upper limit of 69.

"If you're a 70-year-old woman now, you're likely to live to 89," Mrs Henderson said. "It's better for everyone if you live out those years in active good health."

The foundation had started a petition which would be submitted to the House of Representatives, asking for an increase in the screening age.

Meanwhile, from today, Auckland's Sky Tower would glow for pink for the month in support of Breast Cancer Month.