Information for Health Professionals

As a health professional in NSW, you play a crucial role in the BreastScreen program. Learn more about supporting your patients in breast screening.

Guide to Breast Screening

As a health professional in NSW, you play an instrumental role in the BreastScreen program and our overall goal of improving breast cancer survival rates.

In this section, you’ll find information and resources designed to assist you in supporting your patients with various aspects of the screening mammogram process.

Find out more about the role of health professionals in breast screening

Breast Screening: The Facts

  • 1 in 8 women in NSW will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among NSW women, accounting for 28% of all cancer diagnoses in the state.
  • 9 out of 10 women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer.

Why Breast Screening?

Early detection of breast cancer - while the cancer is small and has not yet spread to other parts of the body - is one of the most important factors in improving survival and recovery from breast cancer.

Women who have their breast cancer detected early through a screening mammogram with BreastScreen NSW are half as likely to need a mastectomy.

By helping to detect breast cancer early, the BreastScreen program plays a vital role in improving chances of survival.

Health Professional Assisting Woman During Mammogram

Who is Breast Screening For?

BreastScreen NSW targets women aged 50-74 to have a free screening mammogram once every two years.

However, only around one in two women attend regular screening mammograms.

This means there is scope to significantly increase the number of women who are screened. Our aim is to achieve a participation rate of 70% among women in the target age group, which is aligned with the national target for the BreastScreen program.

With your support, we can encourage more women to have regular screening mammograms and, as a result, improve the survival rate for breast cancer.

The BreastScreen NSW Journey

Identifying Eligible Women

  • The target age group for screening mammograms is 50-74 years
  • Other eligible age groups are 40-49 years and 74+ years
  • A screening mammogram is recommended once every two years
  • Annual screening is available for eligible women under the BreastScreen Screening Interval Policy
  • Symptomatic women should be referred to a specialist clinic or breast surgeon

Booking the Appointment 

  • Referrals are not required; however, GPs are encouraged to recommend breast screening to patients
  • Appointments can be booked by calling BreastScreen NSW on 13 20 50
  • If an interpreter is required when booking the appointment, call 13 14 50
  • Use the Location Finder on our website to search for the nearest BreastScreen NSW service

The BreastScreen Appointment 

  • A standard appointment only takes 20 minutes
  • All radiographers and screening staff are female
  • Consent and patient details will be required before the screening mammogram

Screening Mammogram Results 

  • At least two specially-trained doctors will independently review the x-ray images
  • Results will be provided to your patient within two weeks of her appointment
  • If the patient has given us your details as her GP, BreastScreen NSW will provide you with a copy of her results

Assessment Clinic Visit (If Required) 

  • If the screening mammogram shows an abnormality, your patient will be asked to return for further tests at an Assessment Clinic
  • Further tests can include additional screening mammograms, breast ultrasound, clinical breast examination and/or needle biopsy
  • Depending on the results, your patient may be asked to see you for referral to a specialist for further treatment, or return to routine screening
  • If the patient has given us your details as her GP, BreastScreen NSW will provide you with a copy of her results

GP Follow-Up 

  • We recommend you follow up with your patient to ensure she is attending regular screening mammograms
  • After you receive a patient’s results letter, we suggest you place a rescreen reminder in her records for her next mammogram appointment
  • If your patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, as her GP we encourage you to discuss her treatment preferences and make a referral to a breast cancer multidisciplinary team for further treatment recommendations

 

References:

Cancer In NSW: Incidence Report 2009, Currow D, Thomson W, Sydney: Cancer Institute NSW, 2014

Breast cancer in Australia: An Overview, 2009. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre, Canberra, AIHW, Cancer series no. 50. Cat. no. CAN 46, 2009

Back to top of page

Resources for Health Professionals

BreastScreen NSW has a range of resources for health professionals, available to download and order through our website.

View Resources for Health Professionals >

Recent Publications

Information for women with breast implants
This brochure provides information for women who have breast implants and answers some questions about what happens at a breast screening appointment.

Your appointment with BreastScreen NSW
This brochure provides information about what to expect before, during and after your mammogram.

Information for women with disability
This brochure provides information about accessibility to BreastScreen NSW for women with disability.

Your role as a GP in BreastScreen NSW
GPs and practice nurses play an important role in providing support and encouragement to participate in the BreastScreen NSW program. This factsheet provides information for GP's about BreastScreen NSW.

Multicultural resources - Detecting Breast Cancer Early is Vital
This brochure is available in 28 languages. It promotes the benefits of two yearly mammograms and answers commonly asked questions about breast screening. Please note the English version is for reference only and not available for order.

More publications...