Breast Screening

Research shows that regular screening of women over the age of 50 reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer.

BreastScreen ACT is part of the national breast cancer screening program, which aims to reduce the amount of deaths from breast cancer through early detection. Detecting cancers when they are small can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery, and can result in better treatment options.

If you are a woman over the age of 40 and live in the ACT, you can get free screening and follow up services through the program.

BreastScreen ACT has 3 screening clinics in the ACT.

To book an appointment, please contact us on 13 20 50  or send an email to breastscreen@act.gov.au

Nurse counsellors are available at the Civic clinic to speak with you in more detail about breast screening and breast cancer issues. You can contact them on 13 20 50.

If you would like to organise an information session about breast cancer awareness, please contact our Health Promotion Officer on 02 6205 1614.

Who can use the service?

Women under 40

Women under 40 do not have access to routine screening through BreastScreen ACT.

Currently, there is no evidence to support the benefits of breast screening for women in this age group. In young women, the breast tissue is usually denser due to hormones, making it more difficult to find breast cancers through screening.

If you are under the age of 40 and notice any unusual breast lump, pain or nipple discharge, contact your GP immediately. If you are concerned about your individual risk of developing breast cancer, speak to your GP.

Women aged between 40 and 49 years

Current evidence shows it is unnecessary for all women in this age group to have regular breast screening. BreastScreen ACT is available to women aged 40 to 49, but the program will not send routine reminder letters.

If you are between 40 and 49 and are concerned about your individual risk of developing breast cancer, speak to your GP. If you notice any unusual breast lumps, pain or nipple discharge, contact your GP immediately.

Women aged between 50 and 74 years

More than 70 per cent of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. If you are aged 50 to 74, you are actively encouraged to have a breast screening every 2 years.

Women aged 75 and older

Women in this age group are encouraged to continue regular breast screenings.

Women who have noticed a change in their breast

Screening mammography is not appropriate if you have noticed a change in your breast. If you have concerns about a breast symptom, visit your GP for a full breast examination.

What happens during my screening?

A mammogram only takes a few minutes and the entire visit to our clinic takes about half an hour. During your appointment, you will be asked to remove your bra and keep your top on. The radiographer will explain how the mammogram is taken once you are in the room.

We use digital mammography (low dose breast x-rays) during screenings. Each breast is compressed to get a clear picture of the breast tissue and then two x-rays are taken — one from the side and one from the top. Each x-ray is checked by the radiographer to make sure the picture is high-quality and technically sound.

What happens after my screening?

After screening, your mammogram will be read independently by 2 specialist doctors. Your results will be available within 28 working days and will be sent to you by post. Sometimes there can be up to a 6 week wait if it is hard to find previous screenings for comparison or if we can’t contact you. For this reason, we ask that you are available for 6 weeks after your mammogram.

If your x-rays show changes in your breasts, you will be contacted by a nurse to attend the assessment clinic for more tests. This is a free clinic and is run by a team of specialists.

Most women who attend this clinic will not have cancer detected — less than 1% of women screened are found to have breast cancer. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, your GP will refer you to a specialist for treatment.

Page last updated on: 1 Oct 2018