Notes on the data: Screening programs - Breast screening

Breast screening participation, females aged 50 to 69 years, 2010 and 2011 (NSW, Vic, Qld, SA & WA), 2007 and 2008 (ACT)

 

Policy context:  The data presented here are for women screened for breast cancer as a result of screening programs conducted by BreastScreen New South Wales, BreastScreen Victoria, BreastScreen Queensland, BreastScreen Western Australia and BreastScreen ACT [1].

Breast cancer is a major health issue for Australian women. Currently, few scientifically proven strategies are available for preventing the development of breast cancer. However, research has shown that screening mammography is currently the most effective tool for the early detection of breast cancer in asymptomatic women in the target age group of women aged 50 to 69 years; and, that having a screening mammogram every two years, reduces the chance of dying from breast cancer by up to 40%. Participation in breast screening in South Australia is associated with a reduction in breast cancer mortality of between 30% and 41% [2].

BreastScreen Australia is the national breast cancer screening program with services provided by state-based organisations - in this case by BreastScreen New South Wales, BreastScreen Victoria, BreastScreen Queensland, BreastScreen Western Australia and BreastScreen ACT. The program provides screening and assessment services on a state-wide basis at no cost to eligible women, using fixed and mobile clinics. The target age group is asymptomatic women aged 50 to 69 years; asymptomatic women aged 40 to 49 and 75 years and older are also able to attend [3]. Women who are eligible because of a strong family history of breast cancer are invited annually.

Screening mammograms are different from diagnostic mammograms, which are not provided by BreastScreen Australia. Diagnostic mammograms are for women who have breast symptoms and include views that target the symptomatic area. Screening mammograms are not suitable for women with breast symptoms.

Notes/ References

  1. The data do not include women who undergo private screening; the impact of such services is estimated to be quite small – see: Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA). BreastScreen Australia evaluation: Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Mammography Analysis Project. (Screening monograph no. 11/2009.) Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2009.
  2. Roder D, Houssami N, Farshid G, Gill G, Luke C, Downey P, Beckmann K, Iosifidis P, Grieve L, Williamson L. Population screening and intensity of screening are associated with reduced breast cancer mortality: evidence of efficacy of mammography screening in Australia. Breast Cancer Res Tr. 2008;108(3):409-16.
  3. Australian Government Department of Health. BreastScreen Australia program: About the program [Internet]. [cited 2014 May 22, updated 2016 Mar 15]. Available from: http: http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/about-the-program
 

Notes:  The participation rate for the 24 month period to the end of each calendar year is based on the actual number of women screened as a percentage of the average of the ABS Estimated Resident Population (ERP) for the two corresponding calendar years. If a woman has attended more than once in the 24 months, she is counted once only, and the age is taken from the first visit.

The data do not include women who undergo private screening; the extent to which women use such alternatives is estimated to be quite small (see above).

The data for the Western Australian SLAs Fremantle (C) - Inner and Fremantle (C) - Remainder have been pooled together; as have data for Narrogin (S) and Narrogin (T); and Perth (C) - Inner and Perth (C) - Remainder. The pooled results are presented against each SLA.

In some instances, percentages are calculated at greater than 100%; this may be the result of:

  • the address data being a postcode which is not allocated to the correct SLA by the concordances available; or
  • the address of the facility where the consultation is held or the service is provided being used, rather than the address of the client/ patient.

In time, with more reliable recording of address details, these occurrences should be reduced.

Data are not available for Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
 

Numerator:  Number of individual women aged 50 to 69 years screened over a 24 month period ending 31 December 2011 (NSW, Vic, Qld, SA & WA); or 31 December 2008 (ACT)

 

Denominator:  Females aged 50 to 69 years (Estimated Resident Population (ABS): average of 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2011 (NSW, Vic, Qld, SA & WA); or average of 30 June 2007 and 30 June 2008 (ACT)

 

Detail of analysis:  Per cent

 

Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from:

  1. BreastScreen NSW, BreastScreen Vic, BreastScreen Qld, BreastScreen SA, BreastScreen WA - 2010 and 2011; and BreastScreen ACT - 2007 and 2008; and
  2. ABS Estimated Resident Population, average of 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2011 (NSW, Vic, Qld, SA & WA); and average of 30 June 2007 and 30 June 2008 (ACT).
 

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