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Why you should take the time to have a breast screen

Monday 15 May 2017

Three women sit on a couch laughing, one looks directly into the camera with a serious smile.
It's important to take time to look after your own health, even if you have a busy calendar.

You’re busy: you’ve got work and family commitments, friends to see, errands to run, travel to organise, a garden to weed and hobbies you want to try. There’s a never ending list of things you need to do, let alone taking time to make sure you exercise, eat well, look after your mental health and find time to sleep properly.

So why are we trying to convince you to add yet another appointment to the list?

Why should I have a breast screen?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in Queensland. Approximately one in eight Queensland women will be diagnosed with breast cancer  in their lifetime.

A breast screen can detect breast cancer very early, when it is too small to be felt or noticed. Having regular breast screens through BreastScreen Queensland is one of the best things you can do to detect breast cancer early and improve your chance of survival. With the help of early detection, the five year breast cancer survival rate is 90%. If you’re aged 50-74 years, you should book in for a breast screen every two years.

I don’t have time for a breast screen

A breast screen appointment actually doesn’t take that long. You can be in and out in around 30 minutes, a shorter time than you might spend at the hairdresser or watching an episode of your favourite TV or Netflix show.

BreastScreen Queensland will send you a letter when it’s time to make your first appointment, and will remind you every two years to book again. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to book an appointment, and you can make the booking yourself online or over the phone. The service is free, so you don’t even need to worry about organising payment.

For women in metro areas, you can find out where your nearest service is located using the BreastScreen Queensland website. BreastScreen Queensland also operates mobile services throughout the state, so women who don’t live close to a centre can organise their appointment when the service is next near them.

A woman stands with her two grandchildren at the kitchen bench, spooning mixture into a muffin tray.

I forgot to book, have I left it too late?

It’s better to book sooner rather than later, so jump online or pick up the phone to make an appointment now. Remember it’s never too late to start screening, if you’ve been putting it off for a while now is the time to get one.

I don’t have any breast cancer symptoms, is it a waste of time?

BreastScreen Queensland is a well-women’s service, meaning they do not treat women with breast cancer. The Program targets women 50 to 74 years without symptoms as this is the age group where the benefits of screening have been most clearly demonstrated. Breast screens are more effective in detecting early breast cancers than some people think. Over 19,000 breast cancers have been detected by BreastScreen Queensland since the program began in 1991.

I feel guilty about using the time when I’m so busy

Taking time out to look after your own health may seem indulgent, especially if you spend a lot of time taking care of others. But we know that your family, friends and loved ones would rather you take half an hour to look after yourself, than risk seeing you unwell or losing you to cancer.

Remember, a breast screen every two years is the best way to detect breast cancer early - well before you or your doctor can see or feel anything. Booking a breast screen will allow you to get back to all the important things on your to-do list, with the peace of mind that you’ve already ticked off one of the most important things you can do for your health.

Last updated: 20 March 2018