Breast cancer screening activity

 Activity data are counts of events not people and provide insight into the volume of work carried out by screening programs along with recent trends and seasonal variation.

For BreastScreen Australia, activity data are available on the number of screening mammograms performed within a specified time period.

BreastScreen activity data are reported for the first time in this release.

Screening mammograms performed

In the December quarter 2020:

  •  230,000 screening mammograms were performed for women aged 50–74.
  • The number of screening mammograms performed accounted for 27% of all mammograms in 2020 for women aged 50–74.

Trends in breast cancer screening activity

The number of of screening mammograms performed by BreastScreen Australia among women aged 50–74 increased from 862,000 in 2014 (first full year of available data) to 976,000 in 2019 but fell to 839,000 screening mammograms in 2020. June quarters over the years consistently had the highest number of screening mammograms performed within their respective calendar years.

Impact of COVID-19 on breast cancer screening

As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, BreastScreen Australia services were temporarily suspended from late March to late April/ early May 2020, directly impacting BreastScreen Australia activity.

This is most evident immediately following the March introduction of restrictions, with only 1,110 screening mammograms performed for women aged 50–74 in April 2020 compared to the typical average of around 70,000 screening mammograms performed in April across all other years.

From May 2020, the number of screening mammograms (38,000) slowly started to recover, rising back to a quasi-normal level in June 2020 (70,000). Overall, the June quarter 2020 had the lowest number of screening mammograms performed in 2020 for women aged 50–74 (109,600) compared to quarters in all other calendar years.

Following the June quarter 2020, screening mammograms performed for each quarter reached relative normalcy in the last 2 quarters of 2020 when compared with the same quarters across other years.

For more information about the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s cancer screening programs in 2020, see the AIHW report Cancer screening and COVID-19 in Australia.

Explore the latest data in the visualisations below.

This data visualisation shows monthly national activity data for BreastScreen Australia from March 2014 to December 2020. The column graph shows the number of mammograms returned by year and can be filtered by year, quarter, month, state/territory, and age. The second tab shows the activity data in table form, and can be filtered by measure, year, quarter, month, age, and state/territory.

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