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Mammography Services Reduced Mortality Rates

November 18, 2019 0 Comments

A review of Australia’s BreastScreen program from 2014 found that it had reduced mortality rates in Australia by approximately 21–28%. The services are important but may be impacted with workforce shortages. 

Mammography Services

Mammography Services in Battle with Breast Cancer

The Cost of Mammography Services

Grants Available for Mammography Students


Mammography Services in Battle with Breast Cancer

A mammogram is an X-ray of breast tissue that can find changes that a physical examination could not detect. There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic.

A screening mammogram is used to check for breast cancer without any previous signs or symptoms  while a diagnostic mammogram is used to check for breast cancer after a potential symptom has been found.

BreastScreen Australia is widely available and accessible to many women in Australia. Particularly, women aged 40-49 and those aged over 74 may also be screened free of charge. While not all women will get a specific invitation for a screening, all women are encouraged to know the risks and benefits of screening and where they can get it done. 

Smiling women organising event for breast cancer awareness on a sunny day

A review of Australia’s BreastScreen program published in 2014 found that the program had reduced breast cancer mortality rates in Australia by up to 28% with a participation rate of 56% in the targeted age group of women aged 50 to 69. 

Evidence indicates that mammography screening for women aged 50–69 years impacts and reduces the mortality from breast cancer, and supports the continued screening of women at population risk in the similar age group. 

Early detection can significantly improve treatment outcomes and the goal with any screening program is to minimise the potential harms. However, there are potential risks with the screening including over-diagnosis, some inaccuracies as well as radiation exposure.


The Cost of Mammography Services

Screening mammograms under the BreastScreen Australia program are freely available every two years to all Australian women over 40 and without any signs or symptoms of breast disease.

Women who have been referred for a mammogram by their doctor may have to pay a fee though. While there is a Medicare rebate for mammograms, some private imaging clinics may charge more than the Medicare Schedule Fee. In this case there may be an outstanding out-of-pocket expense. 

Claims have been made previously that mammography reimbursed through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) impacts the Program participation rate.

Survey results showed that due to the modelling of the Program, the demand and capacity in the future for the Program will continue to exceed capacity if nothing is currently done to prevent it. 

Implementation of digital mammography could improve capacity, but its introduction alone will not provide sufficient capacity to address the gap between demand and capacity for services. Shortages in the Radiography workforce are the greatest constraint to capacity while demand for mammography services is growing.

Breast Cancer ribbon awareness


Grants Available for Mammography Students

Mammography students will receive grants from BreastScreen Victoria to support their future career.

Students who enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Mammography at Charles Sturt University are eligible to apply for the Dr Marjorie Dalgarno Grant. There are six grants of $10,000 and two $20,000 grants for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 

The Graduate Diploma of Mammography is designed to provide alternative ways for training mammography practitioners and hopefully to minimise the recruitment shortages in the industry. Charles Sturt University together with BreastScreen Australia, the Australian Institute of Radiography and the federal Department of Health and Ageing co-developed the postgraduate course. 

The course is delivered online and clinical placements through BreastScreen Australia will be mandatory. The grant also includes opportunities for employment after graduation.

Medical student studying


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