Breast cancer screening

In 2023 alone, it is expected 6,859 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and the disease will cause 978 deaths. 

Breast cancer is a collection of cells in the breast tissue that grow in an uncontrolled way. It is the most common cancer affecting women in NSW. 

1 in 7 women in NSW will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Breast cancer screening

Why is breast screening important?

BreastScreen NSW aims to help women aged 50–74 detect breast cancer early by providing free breast screens to women at over 250 locations across NSW. 

A breast screen (also called a mammogram) is the best method to detect breast cancer early for women over the age of 50. Finding breast cancer early improves survival.

What have we achieved?

The BreastScreen Australia program was introduced in 1991. For women aged 50-74, the breast cancer death rate has decreased by almost half (45%) since the BreastScreen Australia Program began.*

However, 50% of women aged 50 to 74 in NSW are still not being screened.

What you need to know

A breast screen is the best method to detect breast cancer early for women over the age of 50.

Women aged 50-74 are invited by BreastScreen NSW to have a breast screen every two years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are recommended to screen from 40 years.**

For women aged over 74, it is recommended that you speak with your GP about your need to screen routinely. 

Visit the BreastScreen NSW website to find your nearest service and book online, or call us on 13 20 50.

In this section

Why breast screening is important

Find out why it is important for women to have a mammogram and how it can help to reduce the impact of breast cancer.

Who needs to screen?

Who should be screened for breast cancer? Find out the age ranges where mammograms are most important.

Breast screening educational resources

‘Breast Health and Screening’ Flipcharts & Facilitator Manuals providing education on breast cancer & screening to people from different cultural backgrounds.

BreastScreen NSW service

Find out why it is important for women to have a mammogram and how it can help to reduce the impact of breast cancer.

Source(s):

*This statistic is obtained from the difference between the 1991 breast cancer mortality rate (74 deaths per 100,000) and 2019 breast cancer mortality rate (41 deaths per 100,000). The population for these rates is all women in Australia aged 50-74.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2021, p. 82. Cat. no. CAN 140. Canberra: AIHW. Retrieved from: www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer-screening/breastscreen-australia-monitoring-report-2021/report-editions

**Evidence shows that Aboriginal women in NSW with breast cancer were younger and more likely to have more advanced cancer at diagnosis than non-Aboriginal women.

1. Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality data set, 2019 (sourced from the NSW Cancer Registry, Cancer Institute NSW). Retrieved from: www.cancer.nsw.gov.au/research-and-data/cancer-data-and-statistics/data-sources-calculations-and-notes

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.