When to refer a woman to BreastScreen NSW?

We actively target asymptomatic women aged 50 to 74 years for a free screening mammogram every 2 years. The majority of breast cancers occur in women aged over 50 years[1].  Further, screening mammograms have been shown to be of most benefit, in terms of deaths prevented, for women in this age group[2].

Women aged 40 to 49 with no symptoms are eligible to attend. Screening mammography is less effective in women of this age group because of biological differences in the breast tissue of pre-menopausal women. This results in more false negative results due to the low sensitivity of screening in this age group. Women aged over 74 years are eligible to attend; however we recommend that you discuss with your patients whether breast screening is a priority. 

[1] Cancer In NSW: Incidence and Mortality Report 2008, Tracey E, Kerr T, Dobrovic A, Currow D. Sydney: Cancer Institute NSW, 2010

[2] Evaluation of BreastScreen Australia Program - Evaluation Final Report, Department of Health and Ageing. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, 2009


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