Who can have a breast screen?

We provide free breast screening to women who are 40 and over, and haven't noticed any changes to their breasts.

Are you aged 50 to 74?

Breast screening is most effective for women aged 50 to 74. About 80% of breast cancers occur in women over 50.

If you haven’t had a breast screen with us by the time you turn 50, we’ll send you an invitation to start screening. You can also make an appointment if you don't have an invitation.

Are you aged 40 to 49 or 75 and over?

There are different risks and benefits of breast screening for women at these ages. If you’re aged 40 to 49 or 75 and over, you should talk to your doctor to find out if breast screening is right for you.

Are you under 40?

We don’t offer breast screening for women under 40. Breast screening isn’t effective for women under 40 and the risk of breast cancer is very low.

Have you noticed any changes to your breasts?

Breast screening is not for women who have seen or felt any changes to their breasts. If you’ve noticed any breast changes that concern you, you should talk to your doctor before you book an appointment. There may be other tests that are more appropriate for you.

Read more about signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

Can I screen if I ...

  • No

    If you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant you won’t be able to have a breast screen. This is because of the possible risk of radiation to your baby.

  • Yes

    Breast screening is safe for women who are breastfeeding but it may be more uncomfortable than usual. This is because breasts that contain milk can be more sensitive.

    Breasts that contain milk are also more dense than usual. Breast cancers are harder to find in  x-rays of dense breasts. This is because dense breast tissue and breast cancers both appear white on  x-rays. Breast screens are still the best way of finding breast cancers in dense breasts.

    If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be asked to breastfeed or express milk just before your breast screen so your breasts are as empty as possible. You can ask for the breast screen to be stopped if it’s too uncomfortable.

  • Yes

    Most women with breast implants can have breast screens but the procedure will be different and there are more risks involved.

    Your appointment will be longer because more pictures will need to be taken. This also means that you'll be exposed to more radiation from the x-rays.

    Your implants will need to be moved to take the pictures. This can make the breast screen more uncomfortable. Even when implants are moved, they can still hide small cancers on breast screens. This means that a cancer could be present but can't be seen on the x-rays.

    There's a small chance that screening will change the shape of your breasts by dispersing the fibrous capsules that often grow around breast implants. Your breasts might be affected differently.

    There's a very small chance that the pressure of the breast screening machine will cause your implants to rupture.

    If you have breast implants and decide to have a breast screen, you’ll need to sign a special consent form to show that you understand the risks.

    Our staff are not able to assess your implants. If you have any concerns about your breast implants, you should see your doctor.

  • Yes

    We usually only screen women who have had breast cancer if it’s been 5 years or more since your diagnosis. There are some exceptions though. If it’s been less than 5 years since your diagnosis and you would like to have a breast screen with us, please call us on 13 20 50. You can talk to one of our nurses about your options.

  • Yes

    We provide breast screening to people who were born, present or identify as female.

If you're not eligible for a Medicare card

If you’re not eligible for a Medicare card, you may have to pay for our services. Call us on 13 20 50 to find out more.

Read more about Medicare eligibility and how to enrol on Services Australia website.

Last updated:October 2021