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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs Top

Answers to commonly asked questions.

1. What happens at the screening clinic?


      View the mammography video.

2. Who is eligible to attend a BreastScreen Victoria clinic?


The target age for BSV is 50-74 although all asymptomatic women* over the age of 40 can attend a BSV clinic.

*Please refer to question 12.

3. How often can a woman come for screening?


It is recommended that women eligible for breast screening should attend every 2 years.

4. What happens after my patient has had her mammogram?


Women receive their results within 2-6 weeks of her mammogram as does her nominated GP.

The majority of women will be sent a normal result letter. 

5. How am I notified of the results?


Results are sent electronically to your Computer Records System. If your practice does not use an electronic system, paper copies of each woman’s results are mailed directly to the practice.

6. What happens if my patient is called back for further tests?


Some women will be asked to attend a BSV Assessment Centre for further tests. This may be because there is an area that needs further investigation.

This may include:

  • A clinical examination
  • Further imaging (diagnostic mammography and ultrasound)
  • Further tests (tissue sampling)

Any further tests at an Assessment Centre are still part of BreastScreen Victoria’s free service. Most women called back for tests are not found to have breast cancer. The woman’s nominated GP is notified of results.

7. How do I refer a patient for her routine screening mammogram?


Eligible women do not need a GP referral to make a screening appointment; however, a GP can fill out a GP recommendation slip from a BreastScreen GP recommendation pad and give it to the patient as a reminder to call BreastScreen Victoria to make an appointment.

Click here to order a free GP recommendation pad.

8. Can I refer a woman with breast symptoms to the breast screening clinic if she is over 40?


The BreastScreen Program is for asymptomatic women for the detection of breast cancer.  Women with suspicious or concerning symptoms should be referred to a diagnostic service for quicker and targeted results.  If the symptoms are of normal breast changes and cancer is not a suspicion then she could attend BreastScreen Victoria, but the report will not comment on normal findings (like breast cysts) only on cancers.

9. What are the benefits of screening?


      View the Screening Benefits and Risks.

10. What are the limitations of screening?


      View the Screening Benefits and Risks.

11. Will screening mammography find all cancers?


Some cancers are not found on a screening mammogram. This can happen no matter how skilled the radiologists reading the mammogram are. A very small number of women may be diagnosed with breast cancer between screening mammograms. If women notice any unusual breast change after their mammogram such as a lump, pain or discharge from the nipple, they are advised to visit their doctor without delay.

12. Can my patient continue to be screened through BreastScreen Victoria if she has had a previous breast cancer diagnosis?


If you were diagnosed with breast cancer more than five years ago you are able to have annual breast screens with BreastScreen Victoria with the approval of your treating doctor.

For more information read our BreastScreen: Information for women previously diagnosed with breast cancer fact sheet.

13. Is there a charge to my patient for breast screening?


Women eligible for breast screening can participate in the program for free. Breast screening is free up until the point of a breast cancer diagnosis. The screening mammogram and assessment appointment are free of charge.

14. Where do I refer my patient to if she has breast symptoms?


Women with symptoms should be investigated with a referral to a diagnostic imaging service or breast clinic. BreastScreen Victoria is for asymptomatic only.

15. What if my patient has a family history of breast cancer?


GPs should refer to Cancer Australia Guidelines for assessment of patients with a family history of breast cancer.

16. Can my patient have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram through BreastScreen Victoria?


At present, mammography is the best cancer detection tool for population screening for breast cancer. Ultrasound is used in conjunction to mammography in our Assessment Center if a woman is called back for further tests after the initial screen, however, is never used as a screening tool and cannot be requested through BSV.

17. Can I view the latest statistics on BreastScreen Victoria?


      The latest statistics can be found in BreastScreen Victoria's 2011-2012 Annual Report.

18. Do mammograms detect implant abnormalities?


BreastScreen Victoria does not investigate or diagnose conditions associated with breast implants. Possible breast implant abnormalities are not always obvious on a screening mammogram but, if a possible implant abnormality is incidentally noted, BreastScreen Victoria will notify both the woman and her GP (if GP details were provided by the woman).

It is recommended  that a referral should be directed to the surgeon who performed the original breast implant surgery as soon as practicable as further imaging may provide more accurate assessment of the suspected abnormality. If the surgeon is unavailable, information on qualified plastic surgeons may be obtained by contacting Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), on 1300 367 446

Like other women aged 50-74, most women with implants can have a screening mammogram with BreastScreen every two years. Before coming to BreastScreen women are encouraged to discuss with their doctor whether BreastScreen is suitable for them.