Breast screening participation rates and numbers by Aboriginal women

Why this indicator is important

The number of Aboriginal women participating in breast screening is increasing across NSW but remains lower than the state average for all women. This results in later diagnosis and poorer outcomes.

Breast screening is for women without any symptoms. Nine out of ten women in NSW with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.1 Women who have noticed changes in their breasts should talk to their doctor straight away.

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

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.2

About this indicator

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

  • Participation in BreastScreen NSW by women from Aboriginal communities is lower than for the general population. 
  • Between 2016–2017 and 2018–2019, the biennial breast screening participation rate for Aboriginal women aged 50–74 increased from 45.2% to 46.1%. This rate remained lower than non-Aboriginal women.
Biennial breast screening participation rate trends for women aged 50–74, by population type, NSW, 2016–2019

N = Number of women aged 50 to 74 years in population, 2018-2019.


  1. Data source: BreastScreen NSW (population data are sourced from SAPHaRI, Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health; Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse population data are sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics). 
  2. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Screening Monograph No.1/2009. Evaluation of the BreastScreen Australia Program – Evaluation Final Report (pages 49–50). Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, June 2009.