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Breast cancer screening

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

Women aged 40 and over are entitled to a free mammogram every two years through BreastScreen Australia, the national breast screening program. For those at increased risk yearly mammography may be offered and for those at very high risk breast MRI may be available outside of the Breastscreen program.

Mammographic screening is less effective in the detection of breast cancer for women under 40 years of age. If you are under 40 and are concerned you may be at increased risk for breast cancer, you should discuss this with your GP. You can also use the iPrevent breast cancer risk tool to estimate your breast cancer risk and get personalised advice about the type and frequency of  screening that might be appropriate for you. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may like to visit our page on family history.

Even if you are having regular mammograms, you should still  report any changes in your breasts to your doctor, as breast cancers can develop between mammograms.

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.
  • Use iPrevent to determine the appropriate screening for you.