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Breast cancer screening policy

Early detection policy

Breast cancer causes the second highest number of cancer deaths in Australian women (after lung cancer), yet survival is relatively good if it is detected in its early stages.

Population-based mammography screening for breast cancer was introduced in Australia from 1991 to 1995 through the BreastScreen Australia program. Access to BreastScreen Australia by Australian women is determined by age alone. The program is targeted specifically at women with no symptoms aged 50-74 years, who are invited to participate every two years.   

The impact of breast cancer in Australia and breast cancer risk factors, as well as the evidence around population-based mammography screening, including information on the potential benefits and harms, is included in the breast cancer chapter of our National Cancer Prevention Policy.

In May 2018, the Australian Department of Health commissioned Cancer Council Australia to explore options for risk-based, personalised approaches to breast cancer screening in Australia. This was reviewed in April 2020. 

Optimising the Early Detection of Breast Cancer in Australia
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  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Cancer in Australia: an overview 2014. Cancer series No 90. Cat. no. CAN 88. Canberra: AIHW.

Find out more about breast cancer screening