Getting a breast screen
Recommended ages for breast screens
You can have a free breast screen at Breastscreen Tasmania if you are are over 40 years old.
Trans and gender-diverse people are welcome to screen with us.
About 80% of breast cancers are found in women over 50.
Regular breast screens are important because there is a better chance of survival when breast cancer is found early.
There is no evidence to support having breast screens in women aged under 40. The higher density of breast tissue in younger women can make it difficult to detect cancers.
There is a higher chance of an incorrect result.
A 'false positive' result is when the mammogram shows there is breast cancer when there is actually none.
A 'false negative' result is when there is cancer but the mammogram doesn't show any.
If you’re under 40 and are worried that you may be at risk please speak to your healthcare provider.
Ages 40 to 49
You can have a free breast screen with us every two years if you are aged between 40 and 49.
Ages 50 to 74
You can have free breast screens with us every two years if you are aged between 50 and 74.
Women aged 50-74 will get regular invitations from BreastScreen Tasmania to attend screening. The evidence of benefit is strongest in this age group. You should breast screen every two years. You can also contact BreastScreen Tasmania to arrange an appointment.
75 and over
You can have free breast screens every two years if you are over 75 years of age.
Please contact BreastScreen Tasmania to arrange an appointment.
Signs to watch out for
Getting to know your breasts is one of the best ways to find signs of breast cancer. Most breast cancers are diagnosed as a result of investigating a lump or other symptom.
We suggest waiting until after your baby is born to have a breast screen. This is because there is a small risk to your baby. If you are worried about a breast symptom, please talk to your healthcare provider. You can have a breast screen but it is important to talk about the risks and benefits of screening.
When you are breastfeeding, the tissue in your breast becomes more dense. This can make it harder to read the mammogram. We recommend having a breast screen three months after you have stopped breastfeeding. If you are worried about any changes to your breasts, please talk to your healthcare provider. If you do have a breast screen we suggest you feed your baby or express milk just before your appointment. This will make your breasts as empty as possible.
Most women who have breast implants can have regular breast screens. Please let us know if you have breast implants as we will book a longer appointment for you.
If you are worried about your implants, please talk to your healthcare provider. Issues specific to your implants are not assessed by Breastscreen staff
Pacemakers and another medical devices
The x-rays used in breast screens can affect some devices. Most women with a pacemaker or other medical device can still have breast screens. If your device is in your chest area we can adjust the equipment to reduce the pressure on your chest.
Please talk to your healthcare provider to find out if your device is safe for breast screens before you make an appointment.
Family history of breast cancer
A family history of breast or ovarian cancer can increase the risk of breast cancer for a small number of women. We will ask you about your family history when you come to your appointment. This will help identify our level of risk. A small proportion of women at higher risk may be given a breast screen every year.
Previous diagnosis of breast cancer
You can have annual breast screens if
- you have had one breast removed
- it is more than five years since you had a lump removed, or
- your specialist requests in writing for you to start screening
People with a disability
Most people with a disability can have a breast screen. We offer a range of support options to help you, including
- wheelchair access,
- longer appointments, and
- interpreting services.
If you have a support person, they can come with you to your appointment.
Some health conditions prevent us from being able to perform a complete breast screen. When this happens, we will talk with you about other options.
People with Down syndrome
People with Down syndrome have a lower risk of getting breast cancer. They are more sensitive to damage caused by exposure to radiation. Due to these risks we don't offer breast scans for people with Down syndrome. Please talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your breasts.
Trans and gender-diverse people
BreastScreen Tasmania are committed to make our services inclusive, welcoming and safe for trans and gender-diverse people. We can refer you to one of our counsellors to discuss the risks and benefits of screening.
- If you have been taking gender-affirming hormones (like oestrogen) for five years or more, we recommend screening every two years from the age of 50-74.
- We do not screen trans women who have not taken hormones or have been taking hormones for less than five years.
- If you have not had chest surgery, screening every two years is recommended.
- There are no clear recommendations for people who have had chest surgery. We suggest talking to your healthcare provider about individual risk factors, including previous surgical and hormone treatment. If you have no remaining breast tissue, screening is not possible or necessary.
Non-binary or gender-diverse people
- If you were assigned female at birth and have not had chest surgery, screening is recommended.
- There are no clear recommendations for people who have had chest surgery. We suggest talking to your healthcare provider about your individual risk factors, including previous surgical and hormone treatment. If you have no remaining breast tissue, screening is not possible or necessary.
- If you were assigned male at birth and have been taking gender-affirming hormones (like oestrogen) for five years or more, screening every two years from the age of 50-74 may be of benefit.