Skip to content

Breast screening participation rates and numbers

Why this indicator is important

One in seven women in NSW will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.1

Nine out of ten women in NSW with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.2

Breast screening programs test women for early evidence of breast cancer, long before a woman can feel any breast changes.

The screening test used is a type of x ray of the breasts. This is called a mammogram. 

Breast screening is for women without any symptoms. Women who have noticed changes in their breast should talk to their doctor straight away.

BreastScreen NSW provides free two-yearly screening mammograms to eligible women in NSW.

The program invites women aged 50-74 years to take part. Women aged 40-49, and those 75 years and over, can also use the program.

A screening mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer early for women aged 50 years and over. The smaller the cancer is when it is found, the more options the woman has for treatment, and the better the long-term outcomes.3

About this indicator

This indicator shows participation in breast screening by women aged 50 to 74 in NSW.

  • In NSW, 52.8% (573,452) of women aged 50–74 took part in BreastScreen NSW during 2017–2018.
  • In NSW, more than half of women aged 50–74 years were screened by BreastScreen NSW at least once during 2017–2018 (a two-year period). 

Biennial breast screening participation rate trend for NSW women aged 50–74, 2012–2018

Biennial breast screening participation rate trends for women aged 50–74, 2012–2018


  1. Data source: BreastScreen NSW (population data are sourced from SAPHaRI, Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health).
  2. The participation rates presented here are expected to differ from figures published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for the same period, due to variations in the population projections used in the denominator.
  3. The participation rates presented here are based on the number of women who live in NSW and are screened in NSW. Interstate clients have been excluded. For this reason, the participation rates for border local health districts (Murrumbidgee, Southern NSW, Northern NSW) might be underestimated.


  1. Data sources, calculations and notes for Cancer in NSW data and the Cancer Statistics NSW module. Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality data set, 2015 (sourced from the NSW Cancer Registry, Cancer Institute NSW). Available at: (accessed 14 February 2020). 
  2. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Familial breast cancer: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 52 epidemiological studies including 58,209 women with breast cancer and 101,986 women without the disease. Lancet 2001 Oct 27;358 (9291):1389–99. 
  3. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Evaluation of the BreastScreen Australia Program — Evaluation Final Report (pages 49–50). Screening Monograph No.1/2009. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, June 2009.