When should GPs recommend screening?
Who is eligible for screening?
BreastScreen Victoria provides free two-yearly screening mammograms to women who are:
- over 40
What age is screening recommended?
Age is the biggest risk factor in developing breast cancer. Around 75% of all breast cancers occur in women aged 50 years and over.
Women aged 50-74 will receive regular invitations from BSV to attend breast screening because the evidence of benefit is strongest in this age group. We urge you to recommend women aged 50–74 screen every 2 years.
Women in their 40s and women over 75 are encouraged to discuss the risks and benefits of screening with their doctor.
Women with symptoms of breast cancer should be referred for diagnostic breast imaging.
What happens next?
Screening results take approximately 2-4 weeks. Women can choose to access her results electronically. A copy of the woman’s screening results will be sent electronically to her nominated GP. All screening results are the combined opinion of at least two clinicians.
Some women are asked back for further tests. If a cancer is detected, women will be referred to their GP or a specialist breast clinic to discuss treatment options.
A GP referral is not required for the BreastScreen Victoria program but you can order a recommendation pad to help you remind women to screen. Women can make an appointment with us on this website or by calling 13 20 50.
What if my patient has ...
Women diagnosed with breast cancer or DCIS more than five years ago are able to have annual screening mammograms with BreastScreen Victoria with the approval of their treating doctor.
These women are not automatically re-invited to join the program; they must re-enrol.
Only women with mammographic abnormalities will be recalled for further tests. All other women will be advised to see their GP for clinical examination.
Women diagnosed with some benign (non-cancerous) breast conditions have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. These are:
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
- Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH)
- Atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
Women with these conditions will be invited for annual screening up to the age of 74. They will only be recalled for further tests if any abnormalities are found on their mammogram. Women with these conditions are strongly encouraged to discuss their on-going management with their doctor, including an annual physical examination.
Referral to a screenings service is inappropriate and may cause unnecessary delay in diagnosis and anxiety for women. A negative mammogram does not alter the necessity for a full clinical assessment and investigation of a breast symptom.
For information on the management of symptomatic women refer to Cancer Australia Guidelines
If your patient has implants they can still have a breast screen every two years. BreastScreen Victoria does not investigate or diagnose conditions associated with breast implants. We encourage women to talk to their doctor about their implants before attending a screen.
BreastScreen Victoria does not investigate or diagnose conditions associated with breast implants. Possible breast implant abnormalities are not always obvious on a screening mammogram, however if a possible implant abnormality is incidentally noted BreastScreen Victoria will notify both the woman and her GP.
BreastScreen Victoria’s family history risk assessment tool uses the information women provide on their family history of breast and ovarian cancer. It does not include all risk factors for breast cancer. Other factors may increase or decrease a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. We strongly recommend that women assessed as at increased risk see their doctor for a more detailed clinical assessment, and if the clinical assessment confirms a high risk status, referral to a specialised clinic.
Women assessed as at increased risk may be invited for annual screening, depending on their age and assessed risk level.
For information on familial risk assessment for breast and ovarian cancer use Cancer Australia's Familial Risk Assessment (FRA-BOC).