Breast screening during COVID-19

Most BreastScreen Australia services remain open with additional safety measures in place to reduce the ongoing risk of COVID-19. Some BreastScreen Australia services may temporarily close due to COVID-19 restrictions. You will be contacted if this affects your appointment.

If your local BreastScreen Australia service is closed

Some services may have to temporarily close due to restrictions or operating at a reduced capacity to minimise the risk of COVID-19 for both participants and staff.

You will be contacted if this affects your appointment.

You can contact your local breast screening provider to find out if they are open or book an appointment. 

If your local service provider is closed, ask them to notify you when appointments become available.

Once a service reopens, they will prioritise women who missed their appointments and those who are due, or overdue, for screening.

If you recently had a mammogram, you will still receive your results.

If you have been recalled for further assessment, these are still going ahead.

Risks of delays

For most women, a delay to regular screening mammograms is unlikely to have any long-term impact. If you are concerned about a delay in your mammogram, contact your doctor or health care worker.

Having a mammogram after receiving your COVID-19 vaccine

Some women may experience swollen or painful lymph nodes following their COVID-19 vaccination and booster. This is a normal response caused by immune cells that are activated by the vaccine.

These symptoms may be experienced with any of the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

This swelling occurs in the lymph glands in the underarm area and is known as lymphadenopathy. Lymphadenopathy is also a symptom of breast cancer, so this may lead to a false positive mammogram result – the mammogram may look abnormal even though there is no cancer present.

You should tell your healthcare professional if you have recently been vaccinated. It is not recommended to delay your COVID-19 vaccination nor your BreastScreen appointment.

Having a private mammogram

A private mammogram without a Medicare rebate can be expensive (over $700).

If you’re thinking about having a mammogram done privately, talk to your GP or health care worker first. Mammograms done privately are mainly diagnostic mammograms. Diagnostic mammography is mainly for women who have clinical breast symptoms which require investigation.

A referral from your GP or health care worker may mean that you are eligible for a rebate from Medicare.

Some imaging services may offer bulk billing for mammograms.

If you have symptoms

The BreastScreen Australia program is for women without symptoms. It is very important to be breast aware and to know the normal look and feel of your breasts. If you find a change in your breast that you think is unusual or you have concerns regarding your breasts please see your GP or health care worker without delay.

They will assess you to determine whether you need further diagnostic measures, such a mammogram or ultrasound. They will refer you to a local service and will provide the necessary follow up care.

Call a helpline

If you have more general concerns about COVID and your risk of breast cancer, you may wish to call one of the following helplines.

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA)

BCNA is a national organisation for Australians affected by breast cancer. Their website provides information and resources about breast cancer and offers support through an online community. Call a cancer nurse Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm if you have questions or concerns.

Cancer Council Australia hotline

If you have a question about cancer or if you need support, call the Cancer Council Australia. The hotline is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday or visit their website for more information.

Lifeline

Contact Lifeline for support if you are experiencing a personal crisis or have suicidal thoughts. You can call them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in Australia.
Lifeline 24-hour crisis line

Other screening programs

Find out what how COVID-19 is affecting the:

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