Benefits and harms

It is important women have information to make informed decisions about their health. Weighing up the potential benefits and harms will help you decide whether a breast screen is right for you and whether or not you take part in the BreastScreen Australia Program.

What are the potential benefits?

  • Preventing deaths from breast cancer. Having a breast screen every two years through BreastScreen Queensland reduces the overall number of women who die each year from breast cancer.
  • Less invasive treatment. If breast cancer is detected early, there are increased treatment and management options. This is because breast cancer can be treated more effectively when it is still small and has not spread outside the breast to other parts of the body.
  • Reassurance. The majority of women will be reassured that their breast screen results showed 'no evidence of breast cancer'.

What are the potential harms?

  • Finding and treating breast cancers that may not have become life-threatening. At this time, it is not possible to tell exactly which breast cancers may become life-threatening and which may not.
  • Further tests done but breast cancer is not found. About 10% of all women who have a breast screen will be called back to the service for more tests. This may cause anxiety when most women will be told after these further tests that they don't have breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is present but not found. While a mammogram is the best way of finding breast cancers early, they are not 100% accurate. A small number of breast cancers may not be visible on the mammogram at the time of screening.

For more information about screening for breast cancer and the potential benefits and harms, click on BreastScreen and You

Last reviewed 13 June 2018 Last updated 15 June 2018

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BreastScreen Queensland reopens

Following a temporary suspension of routine breast screening across the State, some BreastScreen Queensland services are starting to screen again.

The recommencement of breast screening varies across the State. If you had an appointment cancelled, your local service will contact you to schedule a new appointment.

BreastScreen Queensland is an important early detection service for women, which reduces illness and death from breast cancer. To make an appointment please call us on 13 20 50 or book online.

Please note that online bookings are currently not available for the Rockhampton and Wide Bay Services, however, if you live in these areas you can still access your online account to view mail from BreastScreen Queensland, including reminders, forms, your results and update your personal details if needed.

We understand that some women may have concerns about attending screening at this time. If this is you, please talk to your doctor who knows you best, about whether breast screening at this time is right for you based on your individual circumstances.

The wellbeing of women and our staff is always our top priority and BreastScreen Queensland services are implementing a range of strategies to minimise and address risks from COVID-19 for women who attend for breast screening and our staff. As such, we ask that you reschedule your appointment if you are feeling unwell or you are required to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to COVID-19.

All women are encouraged to remain aware of the normal look and feel of their breasts. If you notice any changes please see your doctor immediately, do not wait until your next breast screen. Breast changes to look out for include:

If you have any questions or concerns, please call your local BreastScreen Queensland service on 13 20 50.

We will continue to keep you updated here on our website about the availability of breast screening services during this time.

For more information about COVID-19 or visit www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus

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