Understanding your breast screen results

Find out what your breast screening results mean and what to do if we call you back. Understand what may happen if you have a positive result and what we do with your results.

At least 2 health professionals will look at your mammogram. The doctors will:

  • independently check for anything that requires a closer look
  • compare your new X-rays with any previous breast X-rays (if your last screening mammogram wasn't with BreastScreen Australia, remember to bring your X-rays to your appointment).

It can take 2 to 6 weeks for results to arrive in the post. Contact your state or territory BreastScreen Australia service if you have any queries.

BreastScreen Australia Program contact

Contact your state or territory BreastScreen Australia service to book an appointment, update your contact details or to find out more information about screening for breast cancer. The phone service will connect you to your nearest service for the cost of a local call.

Negative test result

Most women who have screening mammograms show no signs of breast cancer. If you get this result, you will receive a reminder to screen again in 2 years.

It is important to be breast aware and know the normal look and feel of your breasts. Cancer can develop at any time, including between screening appointments.

Results needing more tests

If your results show anything unusual, you will be called back for more tests.

This often happens with your first mammogram. It’s because you have no previous results to compare it with.

Something that looks unusual can be normal for you. Most women that are called back for further tests don’t have breast cancer.

A team of experts carries out the free follow-up tests at an assessment centre.

Further tests can include:

  • a physical examination of your breast by a specialist
  • specialised diagnostic mammography
  • ultrasound
  • breast tissue sampling (needle biopsy).

Needle biopsy

If a breast lesion is detected during your assessment mammogram, a needle biopsy may be done to see if it is cancerous or not. If cancer is diagnosed, you will be referred to a doctor outside the BreastScreen Australia Program to organise treatment.

When doctors plan treatment for invasive breast cancer, they may need to know if your tumour cells have:

  • oestrogen and progesterone hormone receptors (ER/PR)
  • human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

Pathologists may check your needle biopsy to see if these important biomarkers are present.

Positive test result

A small number of women will learn that they have breast cancer. If you’re among them, a doctor will explain the test results and what happens next.

Early detection makes a difference. A breast cancer diagnosis after screening means you are less likely to need a mastectomy (breast removal).

BreastScreen Australia doesn’t treat women with breast cancer, but will help you to arrange your future care needs.

If you agree, BreastScreen Australia staff can contact your doctor, who’ll discuss your options with you. These include:

  • specialist referral
  • treatment
  • follow-up choices.

Treatment options for breast cancer include:

  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • hormonal therapies
  • surgery.

For more information on breast cancer, please see the Cancer Australia website.

Recording results

BreastScreen Australia will keep a copy of your X-ray images. This helps to monitor any changes in your breast tissue over time.

Your service stores the digital mammogram pictures on a computer system that complies with state and territory health record and privacy legislation.

Date last updated:

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