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Aboriginal is inclusive of the terms Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and/or Indigenous peoples.

Aboriginal Health Worker

A health professional who cares for and supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


The removal of fluid or tissue through a needle.


For some people, additional tests will be needed after a screening mammogram to check something further - this is called assessment.

assessment clinic

At an assessment clinic, a team of specialists carry out further tests to check your breast tissue.


When you may have an illness but you do not have any symptoms.



A gene which, if faulty (mutated), puts a person at higher risk of developing breast, ovarian, prostate, and some other types of cancer.


A gene which, if faulty (mutated), puts a person at higher risk of developing breast, ovarian, prostate, and some other types of cancer.


Non-cancerous. Benign lumps do not spread to other parts of the body away from where they started.

benign tumour

A benign tumour is not cancer. The cells in the benign tumour can divide and grow but they do not spread into surrounding tissues or other parts of the body.


A procedure that takes a small piece of tissue from part of the body. This is sent to a specialist doctor who checks it under a microscope to look for cancer cells or other abnormalities.

breast aware

Knowing the usual look and feel of your breasts and being aware of what is normal for you.

breast cancer

A collection of abnormal cells in the breast that grow in an uncontrolled way.

breast conserving surgery

Surgery to remove a breast lump without removing the entire breast. It is also called a lumpectomy or wide local excision.

breast density

Breasts are made up of a combination of fatty tissue and fibroglandular tissue. Breast density refers to the proportion of fibroglandular tissue in the breast.

breast physician

A doctor with specialist training in the diagnosis and management of breast disease, including breast cancer.

breast screening

A way of detecting breast cancer early. It involves asymptomatic people having a mammogram every two years to look for changes that could be cancer.

breast surgeon

A surgeon skilled in operating on the breast.



(cisgender) A term used to describe people who identify their gender as the same as what was presumed for them at birth. ‘Cis’ comes from the Latin term meaning ‘on the same side as'.

clinical breast examination

A thorough physical examination of the whole breast area by a health professional, including both breasts, nipples, armpits and up to the collarbone.

clinical examination

When a doctor physically checks all or part of your body to find out more about your general health, or to diagnose an injury or health condition.


Pressing of the breast between two plates of an x-ray machine.



The process of working out what disease or illness a person has.

diagnostic tests

Diagnostic tests and scans are used to diagnose a medical condition, often following symptoms and signs. Diagnostic tests are not the same as screening tests, which look for the early stages of a disease such as cancer, before there are any signs or symptoms.

double mastectomy

Surgery to remove both breasts.

ductal carcinoma in situ

(DCIS) When the cells inside some of the ducts of the breast have become abnormal, but have not started to spread into the surrounding breast tissue.


Tubes or channels which carry liquid or chemicals from one part of the body to another. For example, ducts in the breasts carry milk to the nipple.


early detection

Finding cancer as early as possible, either by recognising early symptoms of cancer, or by screening to find cancers before they cause any symptoms.


familial cancer clinic

Clinics that provide a service for people with a family history of cancer and their health professionals. Also known as a family cancer clinic.

family history

Health information about a person and their direct relatives. A family history may show a pattern of certain diseases in a family

faulty gene

Changes to a gene inside a cell. These changes are called gene mutations or faulty genes.


The fibrous and glandular tissue in the breast, which includes milk ducts, milk glands and supportive tissue.

fine needle biopsy

A type of biopsy where tissue or fluid is removed using a thin needle, and examined under a microscope.

further tests

If the doctors who review your breast x-rays identify something that needs a closer look, more tests are needed to check whether this is normal or is due to cancer.



An abbreviation of 'general practitioner'. A specially trained doctor who delivers health care in the community.

general practitioner

A specially trained doctor who delivers health care in the community. Often called a GP.

general surgeon

A specialist doctor trained in the treatment of injury or disease using surgery. General surgeons often undertake breast surgery.


Pieces of DNA that contain information for making proteins. They determine how the body's cells grow and behave.

genetic counselling

Advice from a health professional to support patients and their families who have an increased risk of cancer, helping them make informed decisions about genetic testing and consider the personal and family implications of the results.

genetic mutation

A change to a gene, or an abnormal or faulty gene.

genetic testing

A blood test to look for faulty genes (mutations) which can increase the risk of developing cancer.


hormone replacement therapy

(HRT) Drug therapy that supplies the body with hormones it can no longer produce. It is used to relieve menopausal symptoms. Also known as menopausal hormone therapy (MHT).


Chemicals that are produced by glands in the body. They travel in the bloodstream to tissues and organs in different parts of the body. They can affect how some cells grow and reproduce.


in situ

'In situ' means 'in place'. A cancer that has not spread to, or invaded, another part of the body or neighbouring tissues.


The number of new cancers diagnosed in a particular time period.

infectious diseases

Diseases caused by infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi and their toxic products). Many infectious diseases are also communicable diseases, meaning they can be passed from one person or animal to another.


Passed down from parents to their children.


A trained professional who helps patients and their families communicate with doctors and others in their own language.


Cancer that has spread past the layer of tissue where it started and is growing into surrounding healthy tissues.


Nipple inversion is when the nipple grows inwards instead of out.



An acronym for 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer'. LGBTQ+ people may have different risk factors and specific health needs compared to non-LGBTQ+ people.

lifestyle factors

Behaviours that are part of everyday life that are associated with increased or decreased risk of cancer.

lobular carcinoma in situ

Abnormal cells in the lobules of the breast that increase the risk of developing breast cancer.


The milk producing glands of the breast.


When cancer is limited to the area it started and hasn't spread to nearby structures or other parts of the body.


A cancer of the lymph nodes. Lymphomas are divided into two broad types, Hodgkin’s disease lymphomas and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.



Cancerous. Malignant cells can spread and can eventually cause death if they cannot be treated.


An x-ray of the breast.


The surgical removal of the whole breast.

medical physicist

Health care professionals with specialised training in the medical applications of physics. They have expertise in radiation safety and are responsible for the quality control and testing of machines emitting radiation.


Australia's public health scheme that is funded by the federal government. It provides Australian citizens with affordable health care.

menopausal hormone therapy

(MHT) Drug therapy that supplies the body with hormones it can no longer produce. It is used to relieve menopausal symptoms. Also known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT).


The spread of cancer from where it started to another part of the body. Also used to describe a secondary cancer formed when cancer cells spread in this way.


Describes cancer that has spread from where it started to another part of the body.

multidisciplinary team

A team of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who work together to manage the care of patients.


needle biopsy

A type of biopsy where a small sample of tissue is removed using a needle, for examination under a microscope.


A term for gender identities that are not exclusively male or female; rather they sit within, outside of, across or between binary male and female genders.

number of women screened

This is the number of women living in NSW in the target age group in the specified period, who were screened by BreastScreen NSW.



Finding and treating a breast cancer that would not go on to become harmful is sometimes referred to as 'overdiagnosis'. The term ‘overdiagnosis’ does not mean an error or a misdiagnosis but refers to breast cancer detected by screening that would not otherwise go on to cause harm.



The examination of cells, tissues or bodily fluids to identify abnormalities or diagnose cancer.

physical breast examination

A thorough physical examination of the whole breast area by a health professional, including both breasts, nipples, armpits and up to the collarbone. Also known as a clinical breast examination. 

population-based screening

An organised, systematic and integrated process of testing for signs of cancer or pre-cancerous conditions in populations without obvious symptoms. Screening programs target specific populations and/or age groups where evidence shows screening to be most effective.


The number of people in a population with a certain illness at a particular time, or over a period of time.



Radiation is energy travelling as waves or particles. Australians are exposed to radiation from a variety of natural and artificial sources everyday.


A health professional who performs medical imaging tests, such as x-rays and scans.


A doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases using medical imaging techniques, such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

reconstructive surgery

Surgery to reshape or rebuild a part of the body that has been damaged or operated on previously, e.g. breast reconstruction following a mastectomy.

relative breast cancer survival rate

Relative survival is a measure of the survival of people with breast cancer compared to the survival of the general population. It estimates the probability of survival for a given amount of time after a breast cancer diagnosis, in the absence of other causes of death.

reproductive factors

Reproductive factors can have an important effect on breast cancer risk by influencing hormone levels. Examples include having children and breastfeeding.

risk factor

Something that increases a person's chance of getting cancer.



Testing large groups of people to diagnose cancer early before there are symptoms e.g. breast screening mammograms.

screening interval

The time between breast screens.


A specialist doctor who treats diseases using surgery.


A type of treatment that involves operations, for example to remove a tumour from the body.


Changes to the body that a person notices e.g. a lump or pain.


target age group

The target age group for breast screening in NSW is 50 to 74 years for BreastScreen NSW, or from the age of 40 if you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.


Breast tomosynthesis produces a 3 dimensional image of the breast using x-rays. Tomosynthesis is used by BreastScreen NSW as a tool for women who require further investigation for possible cancer.

trans men

Men who were presumed to be female at birth but who's gender identity is male.

trans women

Women who were presumed to be male at birth but whose gender identity is female.


Trans and gender diverse is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender is different to what was presumed for them at birth.


A new or abnormal growth of tissue on or in the body. A tumour may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).



An imaging procedure used to look at organs inside the body. It uses high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) to form a picture of body tissues.



An imaging procedure which uses radiation (x-rays) to take pictures of parts of the body, for example the breasts, bones and the lungs.