Benefits and harms

It is important women have information to make informed decisions about their health. Weighing up the potential benefits and harms will help you decide whether a breast screen is right for you and whether or not you take part in the BreastScreen Australia Program.

What are the potential benefits?

  • Preventing deaths from breast cancer. Having a breast screen every two years through BreastScreen Queensland reduces the overall number of women who die each year from breast cancer.
  • Less invasive treatment. If breast cancer is detected early, there are increased treatment and management options. This is because breast cancer can be treated more effectively when it is still small and has not spread outside the breast to other parts of the body.
  • Reassurance. The majority of women will be reassured that their breast screen results showed 'no evidence of breast cancer'.

What are the potential harms?

  • Finding and treating breast cancers that may not have become life-threatening. At this time, it is not possible to tell exactly which breast cancers may become life-threatening and which may not.
  • Further tests done but breast cancer is not found. About 10% of all women who have a breast screen will be called back to the service for more tests. This may cause anxiety when most women will be told after these further tests that they don't have breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is present but not found. While a mammogram is the best way of finding breast cancers early, they are not 100% accurate. A small number of breast cancers may not be visible on the mammogram at the time of screening.

For more information about screening for breast cancer and the potential benefits and harms, click on BreastScreen and You

Last reviewed 1 September 2020 Last updated 1 September 2020

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COVID-19 Alert

We’re still operating but we’ve made some changes to the way we work to reduce the ongoing risk of COVID-19.

If you’ve recently had a COVID-19 vaccination, there’s no need to delay your breast screen.

Stay at home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.

If you’re feeling unwell, call us on 13 20 50 to cancel or reschedule your breast screening appointment.

If you’re feeling well, it’s important that you continue to access your usual health services, including breast screening if you’re due.

For updates on COVID-19, please visit Queensland Health