BreastScreen Australia aims to reduce illness and death resulting from breast cancer through organised screening to detect cases of unsuspected breast cancer in women, enabling intervention at an early stage. BreastScreen Australia targets women aged 50-69 for free 2-yearly screening mammograms.

This report is the latest in the BreastScreen Australia monitoring report series, which is published annually to provide regular monitoring of national participation and performance for BreastScreen Australia. This report provides data for the 2009-2010 period of participation in BreastScreen Australia, as well as the latest available breast cancer incidence and mortality data (from sources outside BreastScreen Australia).

New South Wales data for participation by main language spoken at home, rescreening, recall to assessment, detection of invasive breast cancer, detection of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and sensitivity were not available for inclusion because of issues relating to the implementation of a new business information system. It is anticipated that future reports will include data for these years.

How many women were diagnosed with, or died from, breast cancer? 

In 2008, there were 6,948 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in Australian women aged 50-69 (or 294 women diagnosed per 100,000 women in the population). This equates to around 19 women aged 50-69 diagnosed with this disease every day.

In 2010, a total of 1,098 women aged 50-69 died from breast cancer (or 43 per 100,000 women in the population). This equates to around 3 women dying from this disease every day, making breast cancer the second most common cause of cancer-related death for Australian women after lung cancer.

How many women participated in BreastScreen Australia? 

More than 1.3 million women aged 50-69 had a screening mammogram through BreastScreen Australia in 2009-2010. This was 55% of women in the target age group.

While participation increased with improving socioeconomic status, this trend was small, with all socioeconomic groups of women aged 50-69 recording participation rates between 53% and 56%.

The difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous women was greater, with 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 50-69 having a screening mammogram in 2009-2010, compared with 55% of non-Indigenous women.

How many women were recalled for further investigation? 

In 2010, 12% of women aged 50-69 screened for the first time were recalled for further investigation; for women attending subsequent screens, 4% were recalled.

How many women had a small breast cancer detected? 

Small breast cancers (≤15mm in diameter) are associated with better treatment options and improved survival. A high proportion of invasive breast cancers detected in women aged 50-69 were small-around half (47%) of invasive breast cancers detected in those attending their first screen, and nearly two-thirds (63%) in those attending subsequent screens.