Information for Health Professionals
Women aged 50-74 are more likely to have a mammogram if it’s recommended by their GP.
Breast Screening: The Facts
- 1 in 7 women in NSW will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85.
- Between 2013-2017, the 5-year relative breast cancer survival rate for women aged 50-74 was 93.4%
- For women aged 50-74, the breast cancer death rate has decreased by almost half (45%) since the BreastScreen Australia Program began.
- 9 out of 10 women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer.
Early detection of breast cancer
Early detection of breast cancer is one of the most important factors in improving survival and recovery. Women who have their breast cancer detected early by BreastScreen NSW are less likely to need a mastectomy.
The BreastScreen NSW program is designed for asymptomatic women. Patients with symptoms should be referred for diagnostic investigation as per the recommended pathway.
All women over 40 are eligible:
- Women aged 50 to 74 years are invited every two years.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are recommended to screen from 40 years.*
- Women aged over 74 - it is recommended that GPs discuss with patients whether routine breast screening is a health priority.
The majority of breast cancers occur in women aged over 50 years. Evidence shows that screening mammography is most effective in this age group, with significant reductions in breast cancer mortality rates in the screened population. Due to hormonal changes, breast density decreases with age in most women, making mammography more effective as a screening tool in women over the age of 50. In younger women, the density of the breast tissue may obscure small cancers.
Your role in breast screening
Medical referral is not required for women to attend the service.
Support your patient to screen by providing them with clear information on the mammography process - particularly if they have concerns about the experience.
Patients with specific needs
BreastScreen NSW is committed to making our services accessible to all women, including:
- Women who have special needs or live with a chronic health condition
- Women in wheelchairs
- Women who require translation services
- Women with breast implants
- Gender and sexuality diverse people
Call us on 13 20 50 to discuss the specific needs of your clients.
*Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at an advanced stage, which can lead to poorer disease outcomes and lower rates of survival than non-Aboriginal women.
Moore SP, Soerjomataram I, Green AC, Garvey G, Martin J, Valery PC. Breast cancer diagnosis, patterns of care and burden of disease in Queensland, Australia (1998-2004): does being Indigenous make a difference? Int J Public Health. 2016;61(4):435-42.
Banham D, Roder D, Keefe D, Farshid G, Eckert M, Howard N, et al. Disparities in breast screening, stage at diagnosis, cancer treatment and the subsequent risk of cancer death: a retrospective, matched cohort of aboriginal and non-aboriginal women with breast cancer. BMC Health Serv Res. 2019;19(1):387.
Tapia KA, Garvey G, McEntee MF, Rickard M, Lydiard L, Brennan PC. Breast screening attendance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Northern Territory of Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2019;43(4):334-39.
Resources for Health Professionals
BreastScreen NSW has a range of resources for health professionals, available to download and order through our website.
While you’re living life, breast cancer doesn’t wait
A4 poster promoting the importance of making time for a breast screen.
You can have breast cancer without any symptoms
A4 poster promoting the importance of regular screening as breast cancer can be present without any symptoms.
Breast screening guide for GPs
GPs and practice nurses play an important role in providing support and encouragement to participate in the BreastScreen NSW program. This infographic provides information for GP's about BreastScreen NSW.
Breast screening and you
This two-page A4 fact sheet is a great summary of why women should breast screen and what to expect before, during and after their mammogram. It is available in 28 language versions, including English. It is available to download in pdf format. Printed copies are not available for order.
GP Referral Pad
Each pad includes 50 recommendation forms that a GP or doctor can give to women to encourage them to book a screening mammogram.