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Breast cancer screening

Breast screening (mammography/mammogram) is a low dose x-ray examination of your breasts. It can detect breast cancer before there are any signs or symptoms (such as a lump you can feel). Screening mammograms find breast cancer early, when treatment such as surgery is likely to be most successful.

Cancer Australia notes in its position statement that detection of breast cancer while it is still small and confined to the breast provides the best chance of effective treatment. Benefits of early detection include increased survival, increased treatment options and improved quality of life.

In Australia, women over 40 are entitled to a free screening mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Australia:

  • If you are between 50-74 years of age you will receive a written reminder every two years. Women aged between 50 and 74 are most at risk of developing breast cancer, with breast cancer in this group accounting for 75 per cent of all women diagnosed.
  • If you are 40-49 years of age or 75 years of age and over you are still eligible for a free screening mammogram every two years, however you will not receive a written reminder to attend.

Mammographic screening is less effective in the detection of breast cancer for women under 40 years of age. If you are under 40 years of age and are concerned you may be at increased risk for breast cancer, you should discuss this with your GP.

BreastScreen clinics

There are more than 500 screening locations around Australia, including permanent screening clinics, assessment clinics and mobile units. You can attend any screening clinic that is convenient. Make an appointment by calling 13 20 50. For more information, including what to expect when you attend your appointment, click on the website of your state or territory BreastScreen service:

More information

  • Read BreastScreen Australia's BreastScreen and You brochure designed to help women decide whether or not to take part in the BreastScreen Australia Program.