About breast screening

Page last updated: 05 March 2015

When free BreastScreen Australia services started in 1991, there were 68 deaths per 100,000 women. This decreased to 43 deaths per 100,000 women in 2010. The decrease is due to the early detection of breast cancer through mammogram and the effective treatment for breast cancer.

Detecting any abnormalities early ensures that women have all treatment options available to them. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chance of surviving it.

Who should be screened?

Women aged 50-74 without breast cancer symptoms should have a screening mammogram every two years. This is because more than 75 per cent of breast cancers occur in women aged over 50.

Women aged between 40 and 49, or 75 and older should talk to their GP about whether they should have a free screening mammogram. Screening mammograms are not effective for women under 40.

Women with strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or with a diagnosis of breast cancer in the past five years, should talk to their GP or contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50 to discuss the most appropriate care.

Breast screening can be a little embarrassing for many women but the health professionals performing the mammogram are highly trained and have the greatest respect for all the women who come to be screened.

BreastScreen and You provides further information to help women choose whether or not to take part in BreastScreen Australia.

What do my results mean?

The majority of women who have a screening mammogram will get a result of ‘no evidence of breast cancer’. Women should still continue to know the look and feel of their breasts between screening mammograms, and report any changes to their GP.

Some women will be called back for more tests because the mammogram showed an abnormality. For most of these women, subsequent tests are normal and breast cancer is not found.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer following a screening mammogram are less likely to have a mastectomy (have their breast removed). Depending on a number of factors and the stage of the cancer, other treatment options can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapies.

How to get a mammogram

To book a free mammogram, contact 13 20 50.

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