Breast cancer screening activity

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

Explore the latest data in the visualisation below.

Screening mammograms performed

  • In the September quarter 2022, 260,000 screening mammograms were performed for women aged 50–74.

Trends in breast screening activity

Between the March quarter 2014 and the September quarter 2022:

  • BreastScreen Australia program activity among women aged 50–74 steadily increased from 861,000 screening mammograms performed in 2014 (first full year of available data) to 976,000 million screening mammograms performed in 2019 but fell over 2020 and 2021 to 839,000 and 924,000 screening mammograms performed, respectively.
  • September quarters have consistently had the highest number of screening mammograms performed, followed by June, March and December quarters.
    • The only exceptions to this occurred in the June quarter 2020 and September quarter 2021 which had the lowest screening mammograms performed in any quarter of 2020 and 2021. This aligns with the effects of COVID-19 on program delivery as described below.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic 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 operations.
    • For instance, screening mammograms for women aged 50–74 in the June 2020 quarter (109,000) were the lowest observed between 2014 to present.
    • Following the June quarter 2020, quarterly screening mammograms returned to relative normalcy when compared to the same quarter across other years.
  • In 2021, screening mammograms for women aged 50–74 increased to pre-COVID levels in the first half of the year (499,000 in 2021 vs 492,00 in 2019) before again falling in the second half of the year (425,000 in 2021 vs 484,000 in 2019 and 495,000 in 2020).
  • In the September quarter 2022, the number of screening mammograms (260,000) was comparable to 2019 and 2020 (258,000 and 265,000, respectively), all of which were higher than 2021 (212,000).
  • It is unclear whether ongoing restrictions and/or concern over COVID-19 or seasonal factors, such as regional weather events etc., or their combination is responsible for the relative drop in monthly screening tests observed in second half of 2021.

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

Figure 1: BreastScreen Australia activity data, March quarter 2014 to September quarter 2022

This data visualisation shows monthly national activity data for BreastScreen Australia from March 2014 to September 2022. 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, by year, by quarter, by month, by age and by state and territory.

References

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2021) Cancer screening and COVID-19 in Australia, catalogue number CAN 137, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 6 December 2022.

AIHW (2022) Cancer screening, AIWH, Australian Government, accessed 6 December 2022.