Information about breast screening for Aboriginal women


What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a collection of cells in the breast tissue that grow faster than normal cells. Cancer cells can travel to other parts of the body and grow there too.

Why do we try to detect breast cancer early?

The best time to treat breast cancer is when it is still very small.

When breast cancer is found early, it has the best chance of being removed and cured.

What is a screening mammogram?

A screening mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. It can find cancers as small as a grain of rice before you notice any changes in your breasts. It is important to check your breasts, even when you are healthy.

There is no evidence that screening mammograms cause cancer.

Who can have a free screening mammogram?

We invite women to have their first mammogram at 50 and then every two years until they are 74. However, women over 40 years can have a screening mammogram with us. You don’t need a doctor’s referral.

Where can I get a free mammogram?

We have clinics at lots of sites, including some hospitals, community health centres, shopping centres and mobile vans. We are working closely with communities and local Aboriginal Medical Services.

Find out where your nearest clinic is by searching the BreastScreen Mobile Unit Directory or call the BreastScreen program on 13 20 50.

We are happy to arrange group bookings for you, your family and friends.

What should I do for my visit?

  • We will send forms for you to fill in and bring to your appointment.
  • Don’t use talcum powder, deodorant or creams before your visit as it can show on your x-ray.
  • Wear a skirt/trousers and a top, not a dress.
  • Please bring your doctor’s or Aboriginal Health Worker’s details with you if you want them to receive your results.

What happens at my visit?

Your appointment will take about 30 minutes. Our screening staff are all women.

  • We will collect your forms and explain what will happen.
  • A female worker will take you into the x-ray room.
  • You will be asked to take off your top in private.
  • When you are ready we will take at least two x-rays of each breast.
  • The x-ray machine will firmly press each breast to get the best x-ray. Some women find the pressing uncomfortable, but this discomfort usually only lasts about 10 seconds.
  • We will tell you when to expect your results (usually around two weeks). If you are worried, call the BreastScreen program on 13 20 50.

What else can I do to look after my breast health?

As well as getting a mammogram every two years, you should get to know the normal look and feel of your breast. If you find a change in your breast that is unusual for you, such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge, you should visit your doctor without delay.

Back to top of page

Aboriginal resources available

Back to top of page