BreastScreen Australia report shows new cases of breast cancer in women are remaining stable

1.8 million participants in 2019-2020 BreastScreen Australia

Approximately 1.8 million participants aged 50–74 participated in BreastScreen Australia in 2019–2020, roughly 50% of the relevant population. The national breast-screening program has been running since 1991 and is a joint initiative with of the Australian and state and territory governments, whose aim is to reduce illness and death from breast cancer by detecting the disease early.

Dr Sally Baron-Hay, Medical Oncologist, GenesisCare: ‘The BreastScreen program has made such a positive impact on the early detection of breast cancers. This has meant more treatment options, leading to improved overall outcomes and quality-of-life for patients.’

In 2020, 60% of breast cancers detected through BreastScreen Australia for participants aged 50–74 were small. Small breast cancers (≤15 mm in diameter) tend to be associated with more treatment options, lower morbidity, and improved survival.1 In 2020, 45% of breast cancers detected in participants attending their first screen, and 62% of breast cancers detected in those attending subsequent screens, were small. In comparison, just 28% of breast cancers detected outside BreastScreen Australia are small.2

The new report also shows stable figures for recall screening for first-time participants - of 11% of participants who screened for the first time, 4% attending a subsequent screen, and had a screening mammogram result indicating they should be recalled for further investigation. These rates are similar to those in 2019.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 50–74 has lower incidence rate of breast cancer than non-Indigenous women (284 compared with 314 new cases per 100,000 women, with a 36% turn-out for screening in the indigenous group.

Breast cancer mortality has decreased since BreastScreen Australia began—from 74 deaths per 100,000 women aged 50–74 in 1991 to around 40 deaths per 100,000 since 2014.

About BreastScreen Australia – Australia’s national breast cancer screening program. It aims to reduce illness and death from breast cancer through an organised approach to the early detection of breast cancer, using screening mammography to detect unsuspected breast cancer in women. Early detection provides an opportunity for early treatment, which can reduce illness and death. Women aged 40 and over are eligible for free mammograms every 2 years.


  1. BreastScreen Australia Monitoring Report 2022. Available at: BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2022. Accessed on: 5/10/22
  2. Caner in Australia 2021. AIHW. Available at: Accessed on: 5/10/22