Your visit to BreastScreen SA
Invitation letters are sent to all South Australian women turning 50 who are enrolled to vote on the state’s Electoral Roll. BreastScreen SA also informs women about their eligibility to attend for free screening through media, local community activities, and liaison with GPs and other health professionals.
All appointments can be made by calling 13 20 50.
Once you have made an appointment, BreastScreen SA will send you a letter confirming:
- the time, date and location of the appointment
- a location map of the clinic
- an Information and Consent form, which you need to complete before attending your appointment.
Your breast screen
- It is best to wear a two-piece outfit, as you will need to undress from the waist up.
- Please do not wear talcum powder, deodorant or skin ointment, as these may interfere with your images.
- If you have had a mammogram elsewhere in the past five years, please bring any available breast X-rays.
- Allow about 15 minutes for your visit to the clinic.
When you arrive at a BreastScreen SA screening clinic, you’ll be asked to give your completed pink Information and Consent form to the receptionist.
You will then be greeted by a specially-trained female radiographer who will answer any questions you may have, and will show you to a change room.
You will need to undress from the waist up, so it is important to wear a two-piece outfit to make this easier. A disposable gown is available for you to wear, or you can put your top back on while you are waiting.
Once you have changed, the radiographer will take you into the X-ray room and ask you some questions relating to your breast screen.
After the radiographer has explained how the breast screen is taken, she will adjust the height of the X-ray machine to match your height and shape.
Each breast is pressed between two plates to get a clear picture of the breast tissue and to minimise the radiation dose. This may be uncomfortable, but the pressing lasts only a few seconds. Two images are taken of each breast: one from the side view and one from the top.
The radiographer will check the images for technical quality and will let you know when the examination is complete. You will then be able to change and leave.
Your breast screen images are read independently by two specially trained doctors (radiologists) and results are posted to you and your nominated GP within 14 working days. Women are reminded to contact BreastScreen SA if they have not received their results within 21 days.
As this test looks only for breast cancer, a report describing any benign (non-cancerous) breast changes will not be provided.
Further tests – your visit to the Assessment Clinic
While most women are reassured that their breast screen shows no signs of breast cancer, around 3% of all women screened are called back for investigation of a screen detected abnormality. This free service includes additional breast imaging, ultrasound and a breast examination. Other tests may also be needed. This service is provided at our dedicated Assessment Clinic in Adelaide.
BreastScreen SA’s clinical team has some of South Australia’s most experienced and premier specialists, including radiographers, radiologists, medical officers, nurse counsellors, pathologists and surgeons. Each woman is counselled through the assessment process, and any available results will be discussed with her before she leaves the clinic.
The majority of women called back for assessment are reassured that they do not have breast cancer.
Tips to make your visit easier
- Wear a supportive bra and a two-piece outfit
- Do not wear talcum powder, deodorant or skin ointment, as these may interfere with your images
- Bring a list of your medications and allergies
- Bring any available breast X-rays or ultrasounds
- Let us know in advance if an interpreter is required
- A light lunch is provided for women staying for an afternoon clinic
- Parking is limited, so please allow extra time to find a car park
- Please make the full day available in case you need to stay for the afternoon clinic
- You may bring a friend or family member with you on the day.
Results of your assessment are often available on the day, however some women will be invited back to BreastScreen SA’s Results Clinic, which is held two days later. The Results Clinic allows women to receive their results from, and to ask questions of, the clinical team.
At the Results Clinic the clinical team will explain your results and you can ask any questions you may have. If you are unable to attend the Results Clinic at the allocated time, alternative arrangements will be made in consultation with you.
If you are diagnosed
With your consent, our medical officers will liaise with your GP and provide detailed information regarding your diagnosis. If you need to be referred to a breast surgeon your GP will arrange this.
Your breast surgeon will discuss all the options of treatment available to you. This is essential before making any decisions on treatment. Many women have a choice about the type of treatment they receive depending on the type and location of their breast cancer.
What happens to your information?
We will seek your written consent before making information about you available to other health providers.
If you do not want information about you to be provided to others, please discuss this with the staff who are caring for you. For more information see the Your rights, responsibilities, privacy and personal information (PDF 112KB).