Frequently Asked Questions
WHO CAN DEVELOP BREAST CANCER?
Anyone with breast tissue is at risk of breast cancer. Whether you are a cisgender woman, trans masc, trans femme, non-binary, gender diverse or a cisgender man, you can develop breast cancer.
People who have had chest surgery such as a mastectomy or top surgery are still at risk of breast cancer, though your risk is reduced due to less breast tissue being present.
Long-term hormone use, such as oestrogen or progesterone, may increase your risk of developing breast cancer. This is relevant for cisgender postmenopausal women as well as for trans women.
People with breast implants can have screening mammograms. If you have breast implants, it is important to let BreastScreen NSW know when you make your appointment and also remind the staff on the day of the appointment.Back to top
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘BREAST’?
Our United Front uses the term ‘breast’ when referring to ‘breast tissue’ which everyone has, regardless of gender. Breast cancer is cancer in the breast tissue.
We understand that some may find the term ‘breast’ a gendered word, or maybe even triggering, and not everyone identifies with having ‘breasts’. We use ‘breast’ in the non-gendered medical sense, referring to tissue in the chest area and cancer that affects this tissue.
This campaign strives to be inclusive and educate everyone in our LGBTQ communities about breast cancer and screening options.
WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO HAVE A MAMMOGRAM?
BreastScreen Australia recommends that you have a mammogram every 2 years from the age of 50 until the age of 74.
If you are aged 40-49 you are still eligible to screen with BreastScreen NSW. However, BreastScreen NSW focuses on people with breast tissue aged 50-74 because the majority of breast cancers occur in this age group. In addition, breast tissue density is lower in people over 50, so it is easier to detect small cancers on a mammogram in this age group.You can book your breast screen online with BreastScreen NSW.
WHAT IS A MAMMOGRAM?
A mammogram (also called a ‘breast screen’) is a low-dose x-ray of your breast tissue. The x-ray pictures can detect the presence of breast cancers as small as a grain of rice, before they can be seen or felt.
A regular screening mammogram is the most effective way to pick up breast cancers early.
The appointment takes about 20 minutes in total.
WILL I HAVE PRIVACY DURING MY MAMMOGRAM?
We understand that a mammogram can be a little daunting for some people. BreastScreen NSW staff are respectful of your privacy at all times.
You will be asked to remove your top in private. Your female radiographer will then work with you to ensure you are comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, talk to your radiographer and they can stop the appointment at any point.
DO I HAVE ENOUGH BREAST TISSUE FOR A MAMMOGRAM?
The majority of people are able to have a mammogram regardless of size. If you are unsure, then it is best to speak with your doctor or BreastScreen NSW when booking. Ultrasounds could be an option for some people.
HOW MUCH DOES A MAMMOGRAM COST?
A free mammogram with BreastScreen NSW is available to NSW residents who are 40 or over.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I FIND A LUMP IN MY BREAST TISSUE?
If you've noticed an unusual change such a lump in your breast tissue or thickening of discharge from the nipple, you should see your doctor straight away - they will advise you what to do next. BreastScreen NSW does not provide screening mammograms for people with symptoms. Learn more about signs and symptoms.
ARE MAMMOGRAMS 100% ACCURATE?
Mammograms are the most effective method of finding breast cancer early in people with breast tissue aged over 50. However, it’s important to be aware that mammograms are not 100% accurate; in a small number of cases, a mammogram will look normal even if cancer is present.
WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?
The results of your mammogram will be sent to you around 2 weeks after your appointment. If you don’t receive your results or if you have any concerns, you can call BreastScreen NSW on 13 20 50.
I’VE HAD TOP SURGERY, DO I STILL NEED A MAMMOGRAM?
There needs to be the presence of sufficient breast tissue to have a mammogram. For people who have had top surgery, we recommend speaking to your doctor who can advise on self-checking, as well as other screening options that might be more suitable. Check out our resource for trans, non-binary and gender diverse people.
BreastScreen NSW is a service for female identifying people with breast tissue. For trans masculine, non-binary or gender diverse people, we recommend talking to your doctor.
ARE THE BREASTSCREEN NSW LOCATIONS ACCESSIBLE?
Most of BreastScreen NSW’s screening centres and mobile vans are wheelchair accessible. Use BreastScreen’s location finder to search for your nearest accessible centre, or call BreastScreen NSW on 13 20 50.
If you are in a wheelchair, you can have your mammogram while seated. However, it’s important that you are able to independently hold your head up and your arms clear of your chest.
BreastScreen NSW provides longer appointment times to meet the needs of wheelchair users. If you have specific requirements, be sure to let us know when you make your appointment.
I HAVE A HEALTH CONDITION OR DISABILITY, CAN I STILL ACCESS THE SCREENING SERVICE?
Most screening centres are accessible and BreastScreen NSW staff are experienced in helping everyone feel comfortable during their mammogram.
If you have a health condition or disability, the following information may help you feel more confident about your mammogram:
You can attend your appointment with a carer, friend, partner or family member
Your guide dog or assistance dog is welcome at your appointment
BreastScreen NSW staff can provide assistance to people with intellectual disabilities
BreastScreen NSW can liaise with local disability services to arrange support for you when you attend your screening appointment
You can find out more information about screening with a disability here