More detailed information on policy, aims and objectives of BreastScreen Australia.
BreastScreen Australia national policy
Policy overviewThe key agreed national BreastScreen Australia policy statements are:
- BreastScreen Australia selects women for screening on the basis of age alone. Women aged 40 years and above are eligible. Recruitment strategies will be targeted at women aged 50 - 69 years. The age for screening will be monitored and reviewed as new data become available.
- The screening interval will be every two years and will be reviewed as new data become available.
- Screening will be at minimal or no cost to the women, and free of charge to eligible women who would not attend if there were a charge.
- Comprehensive and easily understood information, emotional support and counselling will be provided as appropriate. Women will be advised of the effectiveness and risks of mammography and on the maintenance of a regime of breast care to reinforce the message that a negative mammographic screen does not preclude a diagnosis of breast cancer prior to the next screening.
- Screening services will be provided in a manner which is acceptable to women in the target group and in accessible, non-threatening and comfortable environments.
- General practitioners will be kept informed of the results of screening and of any further work-up required, unless a woman directs otherwise. Although a doctor’s referral is not a prerequisite for attendance, a letter from the woman’s doctor is welcome.
- Screening will employ mammography as the initial screening method.
- All women will be screened with two view mammography. At a subsequent rescreening one view may be used if previous mammograms have indicated that two views are not required.
- All mammograms will be taken by a radiographer appropriately trained in screening mammography.
- All mammographic images will be read and reported independently by two or more readers, at least one of whom shall be a radiologist. Both readers must be specially trained in screening mammography and both meet the same performance criteria. Reports will be combined into a single recommendation.
- The results of screening will be provided promptly and directly to the woman who is the subject of screening in a way which is sensitive to her possible anxiety.
- Women will be actively involved in decisions about their management, particularly in relation to further assessment and treatment, and written information will be provided.
- Screening and assessment will be carried out at accredited centres/services.
- The program will take a woman from screening up to and including histological or cytological diagnosis of breast cancer.
- Women with histologically or cytologically confirmed breast cancer will be given the option of referral to a treatment clinic specialising in the treatment of screen-detected breast cancer or returning to their nominated general practitioners for referral to an appropriate surgeon.
Key features of BreastScreen AustraliaThe key features of BreastScreen Australia are:
- A doctor’s referral is not required.
- Services are located throughout each Australian state and territory using fixed or mobile services to ensure the program is accessible to all women.
- Recruitment, and reminder systems ensure that women in the target group are screened and re-screened in accordance with program policy. The target group for screening is women aged 50-69 years, but women aged 40-49 years and over 70 years are also eligible to attend.
- Comprehensive, multidisciplinary follow-up assessment services ensure all women with a screen-detected abnormality have appropriate specialist medical assessment to the point of diagnosis and referral to treatment services.
- A comprehensive system of accreditation ensures that all BreastScreen Australia services operate under a common set of standards. Each service is assessed on a regular basis by an independent team, to ensure that the service provided complies with national standards.
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Aims and objectives of BreastScreen Australia
- To ensure that the program is implemented in such a way that significant reductions can be achieved in morbidity and mortality attributable to breast cancer.
- To maximise the early detection of breast cancer in the target population.
- To ensure that screening for breast cancer in Australia is provided in dedicated accredited screening and assessment services as part of BreastScreen Australia.
- To ensure equitable access for women aged 50-69 years to the program.
- To ensure that services are acceptable and appropriate to the needs of the eligible population.
- To achieve high standards of program management, service delivery, monitoring and evaluation and accountability.
- To achieve a 70 per cent participation rate in the BreastScreen Australia program by women in the target group (50-69) and access to the program for women aged 40-49 years and 70-79 years.
- To rescreen all women in the program at two-yearly intervals.
- To achieve agreed performance outcomes which minimise recall rates, retake films, invasive procedures, ‘false negatives’, and ‘false positives’, and maximise the number of cancers detected, particularly the number of small cancers.
- To refer to appropriate treatment services and collect information about the outcome of treatment.
- To fund, through State Coordination Units, Screening and Assessment Services which are accredited according to agreed National Accreditation Standards and to ensure that those Standards are monitored and reviewed by appropriate national and state and territory Accreditation Committees.
- To recognise the real costs to women of participation in the program and to minimise those costs. This includes the provision of services at minimal or no charge and free to eligible women who would not attend if there was a charge.
- To make information about mammographic screening and BreastScreen Australia available in a variety of easily comprehensible and appropriate forms, to women and health-care providers in particular.
- To achieve patterns of participation in the program which are representative of the socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural profiles of the target population.
- To provide services in accessible, non-threatening and comfortable environments by staff with appropriate expertise, experience and training.
- To provide appropriate service in that: the provision of counselling, education and information is an integral part of the program; sensitive procedures for notification of recall are in place; and the time between the initial screen and assessment is minimised.
- To achieve high levels of participation in the development and management of the program by members of significant professional and client groups.
- To collect and analyse data sufficient to monitor the implementation of the program, to evaluate its effectiveness and efficiency and to provide the basis for future policy and program development decisions.
Page currency, Latest update: 17 December, 2010